Happy Earth Day!! My Earth Day morning started with a walk towards Cottonwood Pond. Along the way, I found some new discoveries! The prickly poppies are starting to bloom. I believe this one is Argemone platyceras – the one more commonly found in the Sonoran Desert region. The prickly poppy genus is found throughout the United States and all parts contain alkaloids that are poisonous. Apparently, even cattle will not touch it! The last time I saw this plant in bloom was in Big Bend NP in Texas several years ago.
My other discovery of importance is the red-orange Mariposa lily now blooming on the bank along the road leading to the pond. It’s the first one I’ve seen that is not exhibiting the yellow color variation. When I started looking deeper into this species I found that the yellow variety is known as Calochortus kennedyi var. munzii and the red/orange variety is Calochortus kennedyi Porter or Calochortus kennedyi Porter var. kennedyi. I’ve been using several websites to verify botanical names and identifications. Below are a few that I’m recording here for my benefit as well as yours if you are interested! 🙂
USDA Plants Database: https://plants.usda.gov/
Flora of North America: www.efloras.org
Integrarted Taxonomic Information System: https://www.itis.gov
Encyclopedia of Life: https://eol.org/ – hosted by the National Museum of Natural History
On my way back, I decided to walk up the wash that leads to the backside of our campsite. This tiny little lupine was blooming.
The wash is an interesting ecosystem. I noticed coyote tracks and scat mixed in with the cattle prints as I walked. The coyote are very vocal in the early evening as the sun is setting. I can just picture them prowling the wash stealthily looking for prey!
This was the first morning that I did not make it all the way to the pond to check out my feathered friends. The last time I was there, I saw a Bullock’s Oriole and I was hoping to catch another glimpse of him. Just before reaching the pond, there were three VERY LARGE bulls lounging right in the road – one with some serious horns. I was not inclined to walk past them!! I waited from a distance hoping they would move off into the grass but they were not accommodating me. So, I detoured back home through the wash 🙂