Wildflower Walk April 21 with Cass Blodgett
....plus this week's Wildflower forecast
Arizona State Parks Volunteer Cass Blodgett leads a Sunday wildflower walk April 21 starting at 11 a.m. Bring your camera! Wildflower walks and daily general tours of the main trail thruoghout April at 11:00 a.m. are included with regular daily admission of $9.
Do you Love roses? Throughout the year our staff receive this phoned-in question: "is your Lady Banks rose is bloom yet?" This week, April 10-17, the answer is YES; our most famous (and massive) Lady Banks is in full glorious, three-story-bloom in the Herb Garden, where it has climbed up nearby cliffs and reaches ever skyward using the 40-foot-tall pecan tree as a natural trellis. Another Lady Banks blooms in the Demonstration Garden.
What's in bloom this week? A few of the most numerous wildflowers you'll see along the main trail are desert marigold, spreading fleabane, and Rumex (wild rhubarb) just past the Smith Building; goldpoppies and claret cup cacti at the entry to the Chihuahuan Desert exhibit where the Main Trail crosses Silver King Wash; hot pink Parry's penstemon, western spiderwort, deer weed, desert zinnia, globemallow, and bajada lupine in the Cactus Garden; mormon tea, blackfoot daisy, rattlesnake weed, desert chicory, purple pladderpod and fairy fuster above Ayer Lake; fiddlenecks, popcorn flower, desert wishbone bush, brittlebush and bluedicks at the Picketpost Mansion overlook and down the switchbacks; and a veritable jungle of wild cucumber and Phacelia thickets lining the riparian area along Queen Creek below the mansion. South American palo verdes (Geoffroea decorticans) are in full, fragrant bloom along Silver King wash in the Chihuahuan Desert exhibit, as are Yucca torreyi, Yucca faxoniana, wooly butterfly bush, and Mexican buckeye. 'Big Chief' tulips are flowering along the Main Trail
Learn to Photograph Wildflowers ;
and stop by our gift shop for a copy of Colleen Miniuk-Sperry's excellent book:
Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona's Wildflowers, A Guide to When, Where, & How..
This week you'll see five shades of Globemallow (orange, white and pink) along the Main Trail in the Cactus Garden, with Western Dayflower (AKA "Spiderwort") robust and ready to accent the Cactus Garden with camera-ready blue blossoms. Flower color begins 20-minutes west as you drive towards BTA - don't miss Highway 60's impressive roadside flower show through Gold Canyon and Florence Junction where robust lupines and bluedicks, phacelia, globemallow, goldpoppies & desert marigold border the scenic highway.
This week at the Arboretum watch for hot-pink Parry's Penstemon - and at least four varieties of lupine in bloom (fuzzy little low-to-the-ground Bajada Lupine dominate thecactus garden). Now going into its 4th straight week and still blooming strong, Wild cucumber (Marah gilensis) remains BTA's most interesting and dramatic endemic plant: with "Jack & The Beanstalk" vines that have climbed their way as high as 12-feet through native jojoba, mesquite and other trees in locations throughout the grounds. Watch for clusters of tiny, off-white, starfish-shaped flowers on these thriving green vines.
Other flowers throughout the park include fetid marigold (yellow); wild rhubarb (green); London rocket (gold) and henbit (purple); as well as bluedicks and Mormon tea (along the main trail from Ayer Lake uphill). Walk the short trail that leadsd behind the Palm Grove to smell the jasmine-sweet and unique perfume of berberis shrubs there. And BTA'sSpring Plant Sale goes into the second week - with great savings on a wide variety of flowering plants, shrubs, trees, cacti and succulents.
Our staff report more color each day! Fflowers to seek during the week of March 19-26 include bright patches of blue phacelia along the main trail, below Picketpost Mansion; or walk the high trail to see yellow wallflower and desert anemone . There are still a few flowers on our endemic rhyolite bush (ragged rock flower).
One of the Arboretum's most interesting and native early-blooming native shrubs is rhyolite bush (AKA Crossosoma bigelovii, or ragged rock flower); most have already peaked, but watch for these trailside above Ayer Lake, along the "switchbacks" below Picketpost Mansion, and also in the Queen Creek riparian corridor. Read more about this unusual shrub at
Wild cucumber remains the most interesting and showy of our spring flowers: with "Jack & The Beanstalk" vines that have climbed their way as high as eight-feet through native jojoba, mesquite and other trees in locations throughout the grounds. Watch for clusters of tiny, off-white, starfish-shaped flowers on these thriving green vines.
Other flowers throughout the park include fetid marigold (yellow); wild rhubarb (green); London rocket (gold) and henbit (purple); as well as bluedicks and native Pipevine (Aristolochia watsonii) and Mormon tea (along the main trail from Ayer Lake uphill) where you'll also find Four O'Clock. Walk the short trail that leadsd behind the Palm Grove to smell the jasmine-sweet and unique perfume of berberis shrubs there.
BTA's "first of season" Aristolochia watsonii began blooming last week. This charismatic little plant is easily overlooked, but worth seeking: watch for the one that's blooming as you walk through the main trail's narrowest section: inside "the catwalk" where the trail narrows and ischain-link-fenced above queen creek (about 50-yards east of the suspension bridge). One of these unusual Pipevine flowers was open last week, and several more buds were poised to welcome little pollinators. Want to read a wonderful description of this unusual flower? Don't miss the "rodent's ear" anecdote posted here:
Here are a few other plants to watch for: miner's lettuce is growing strong along the high trail; still just seedlings,
and not flowering yet -- but patches are thick and robust. And Mormon tea is flowering along the main trail from ayer lake uphill. Its worth bringing a magnifying glass (or invert your binoculars!) for a closeup look at these pine-cone-shaped flowers
Guided wildflower walks at BTA are included with $9 daily admission
read about Wildflower Photography classes in March,
connect with 3,700 fans at
Guided wildflower walks are included with $9 daily admission.
CHECK THIS PAGE AGAIN IN LATE FEBRUARY FOR AN UPDATE
( EDITOR'S NOTE: the following is our final wildflower report posted last year, April 2012)
Where to find this week's colorful blossoms? Elderberry (Sambucus mexicana) is the tall shrub with white 'lace doilies' of flower clusters just as you enter the hummingbird-butterfly garden; also watch for 'em along silver king wash and queen creek. They have abundant flowers this year -- will elderberry fruit production be equally robust? Tomatillo fruits are ripe and juicy -- bright red berries the size of coffeebeans add bursts of color to the otherwise inconspicuous Anderson Thornbush (Lycium andersonii) this year. Watch for cliff chipmunks, black-throated sparrows and other photogenic little resident critters to feast on these ephemeral fruits while they're ripe and available.
Prickly phlox (Eriastrum diffusum) are blooming above the quincho, small plants which can carpet the ground with pale bluestar-shaped flower clusters in a good year. Showy mariposa lilies are more numerous than in recent memory - Monday there were three nice mariposas blooming above the trail and at left as you approach the Ayer Lake overlook. Delphinium are having a good year, too; look for the big, spreading patch at right while walking eastbound and uphill above Ayer Lake just as you approach the Picket Post Mansion overlook. While descending down the 'switchbacks' section of trail watch for mustard evening primrose (Camissonia brevipes).
White Ratany adds color along the curandero trail (and a special guided ethnobotany tour of the Curandero Trail on Saturday, April 14, at 1:30 p.m. brings a chance to meet author Jean Groen and learn about ethnobotanical uses of ratany and other trailside plants). Watch for asparagus-spear-shaped stalks of golden-flowered agaves (Agave chrysantha) in various places from the cactus garden up towards the mansion, and Colorado Four O'Clock blooming strong, and right on schedule, beneath the shade of towering red gum trees in the eucalyptus forest.
Cactus blossoms worth visiting to see this week include a rare Claret Cup hedgehog (Echinocereus triglochidiatus, var. Arizonicus) with vivid red flowers easily photographable in the raised bed where the Main Trail crosses Silver King Wash. Native 'Boyce Thompson' Hedgehog cacti named in honor of the park's founder are flowering as you walk the main trail above Ayer Lake.
If you drive Highway 60 east to the Arboretum this week watch for wildflowers that border 20 miles of this scenic highway approaching the gardens from Gold Canyon eastwards - a colorful palette of sky-blue lupine, hot-pink Parry's Penstemon, lemon-yellow globemallow and brittlebush, and feathery pink fairy duster. Here in our gardens native Sonoran Desert wildflowers began showing back in January - and now there are at least two dozen colorful species to see and photograph along the mile-and-a-half long Main Trail.
HERE AT THE ARBORETUM
Camera-ready clumps of Fetid Marigold are trailside immediately as you start down the main trail below the visitor center, then look for vigorous clumps of Wild Rhubarb just past the Smith Building. The Cactus Garden offers the opportunity to compare three blooming lupines (Coulter's, Bajada & Silver) and see Western Dayflower, hot-pink Parry's Penstemon, rattlesnakeweed spurge, and Odora (also known as Yerba de Venado, or deer weed). Watch for Chuparosa near the Boojum Trees, and low thickets of Amsinckia (fiddlenecks) just below Ayer Lake.
Walking past and above AYER LAKE watch for native shrubs such as Mormon Tea and Tomatillo, and trailside patches of Purple Bladderpod, Bluedicks, and Phacelia - the latter with its signature "scorpion tail" curled inforescence.
DOWN ALONG QUEEN CREEK in the shaded riparian area the trail is bordered by thickets of Blue Phacelia (Wild Heliotrope, Phacelia distans) that will be quite impressive during mid-April. Climbing above are robust vines of Wild Cucumber (Marah gilensis) snaking up and through jojobas and other unwitting host plants -- reaching aggressively skyward with green tendrils and clusters of tiny starfish-shaped white flowers. Its hard to believe all that growth happened in less than one month, and that in another few months these ephemeral vines will begin to dried up, fragment and fall back to the earth - disappearing til next Spring. Monkey flower is a rare find - and you can see these small yellow flowers at the water's edge where the trail is closes to Queen Creek -- and narrowest, running between chain-link fence and rock cliff faces. .
EAST OF THE ARBORETUM IN QUEEN CREEK CANYON
Drivers who continue past theArboretum and superior, proceeding another two miles up into Queen Creek Canyon on highway 60 can be rewarded with views of vigorous Stachys Coccinea (Red Mint, shown in the photo at left); Tufted Evening primrose, Firecracker Penstemon, Deer Vetch -- and the unusual greenish-yellow flowering euphorbia known as Woodland Spurge.
WATCH OUR SPRING FLOWER VIDEO
Preview Spring flowers with a relaxing three-minute video clip of highlights filmed around the trails a couple years back: http://ag.arizona.edu/bta/wildflowers_2005_384.wmv
Daily admission of $9 for adults, $4.50 for children ages 5-12 includes our weekend wildflower walks.
Preview an Arboretum Flower Walk:
PEACHVILLE MOUNTAIN POPPIES
The color is done now, and the flowers gone to see -- but back in early February, suprisingly early for the season, Superior residents reported massive hillsides of lupine and Mexican goldpoppies blooming on Peachville Mountain north of here. Hillside swaths of Mexican Goldpoppies, hundreds of acres worth, cover Peachville Mountain -- which are accessed by either of two well-maintained Forest Service dirt roads: Happy Camp Road (off Hewitt Station road), and also the Silver King Mine road closer to Superior.
REVISIT THIS PAGE FOR UPDATES IN APRIL - MAY
(Archived report below isfrom 2011)
What's Blooming This Week? The
Arboretum Wildflower Checklist includes just about all the species you can see here -- and includes their Latin names. Flowers to watch for this week:
As of April, 2011, the CACTUS GARDEN has Desert Marigold, lupine varietals (Coulter's, Bajada, and Silver) and Globemallow (both orange and pink varietals); Parry's Pestemon, Eaton's Penstemon, and Odora (also known as Yerba de Venado). Hedgehog cacti are just about done blooming - look for the Arboretum's own 'signature echinocereus' - the Boyce Thompson Hedgehog cactus, named to honor the founder of the garden. Near the wooden shade ramada in the cactus garden are rare Claret Cup cacti (Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. Arizonicus) which were salvaged back in 2009 ahead of the highway 60 road work near Pinto Valley. If you don't see them here, watch for bright orange spots in the cliffs as you drive highway 60 towards Globe -- these native cacti occur from Devil's Canyon all the way to Pinto Valley -blooming in south-facing, rocky cliffs above the highway. Back at BTA our Cactus Garden has one of the most interesting flowers you'll see all Spring, but you have to look carefully for them. Small, innocuous purplish, spade-shaped leaves of the Dutchman's Pipe or Southwestern Pipevine (Aristolochia watsonii) are the clue - these small, dark plants are flowering this week around the Cactus Garden. Look for the pipe-shaped flower, and watch for blue-black Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies visiting to lay their eggs on this larval host plant.
This is fun -- read why the flower is shaped like a rodents ear: http://fireflyforest.net/firefly/2005/09/04/watsons-dutchmans-pipe/
From AYER LAKE & ABOVE Desert Aster, Hopbush, and Flattop Buckwheat are trailside as you approach Ayer Lake. The trail continues above and has patches of Yellow Monkeyflower, Silver Puffs, Desert Wishbone and Fairy Duster. Mariposa Lilies are scarce at the Arboretum; you might still find a few these in the South American collection behind and above the 'Quincho' - the large, open shade structure just above Ayer Lake. Several were blooming lastweek at the back end of the loop trail (nearest highway 60), along with Perezia, tall white-flowered Desert Wishbone, Blackfoot Daisies, Hopbush and poreleaf (off the Arboretum grounds Mariposa Lilies were blooming along the Silver King Mine road this week, also the dirt road to Montana Mountain, and the forest service road just east of Picketpost Mountain). Monkey flower is also a rare find - look for patches in the creek which runs below the main trail and feeds Ayer Lake; also across from the humorous "Rattlesnakes Only!" Also check along Queen Creek, once you descend the 'Switchbacks' section of trail below the Picketpost Mansion. As you descend on the "Switchbacks" below Picket Post House mansion you'll find shade and cooler temperatures once you round the bend at the hairpin turn at the bottom of the hill; April and May are the months to see Climbing Milkweed (Sarcostemma cycnanchoides) here.
And as the trail flattens out again along the shady Queen Creek riparian corridor you'll see unusually tall thickets of Blue Phacelia or 'Wild Heliotrope' (Phacelia distans) -- quite impressive here.
HIGH TRAIL: The High Trail still has thick patches of Miner's Lettuce, the one place you'll see this at BTA. Walk the High Trail just above and to the west of the suspension bridge to see many robust yellow Bush Penstemon (Keckiella antirrhinoides ssp. microphylla) offering a contrast to the more common Firecracker Penstemon (P. eatonii ); also Larkspur (Delphinium parishii), White Phlox, and abundant . Watch for Perezia just beginning to bloom along this scenic trail, also prickly pear cacti with nice cream-to-gold blossoms, and lovely Ocotillo or 'Flaming Sword' blooming at the west end of the High Trail, closer to (and overlooking) the picnic area.
60 EAST TO MIAMI, GLOBE -- Drive east towards the town of Miami and city
of Globe this weekend; there are completely different flowers to see all along
highway 60 and at the City of Globe's Round Mountain park (more detail on
that below). Evening Primrose, Deer Vetch (Lotus rigidus) and Firecracker
Penstemon are flowering in Queen Creek Canyon, six miles east of the Arboretum
near milepost #229, and fragrant Buckbrush (Ceanothus gregii), Yarrow, Verbena
and Gallardia are at their peak now at the Oak Flat campground turnoff. As
hwy 60 descends into Devil's Canyon (milepost 232) watch for purple bladderpod,
Indian paintbrush, phlox and Penstemon pseudospectabilis. There's an unusual
mint-green Euphorbia blooming near this milepost, too - a plant you won't
find elsewhere - watch the rock outcrops on the north side of the highway
just as the road descends into Devil's Canyon.
Roadside Mexican Goldpoppies are at their photogenic peak along Highway 60 in Claypool this week (and fun to photograph with big 18-wheel copper mine trucks rumbling past in the background!). Look for Prickly Poppy, also known as Cowboy's Fried Egg, near the Chamber of Commerce office.
And hikers will find lots of variety this week in the foothills below the Apache Peaks and Pinal Mountains. Watch for Larkspur (Delphinium parishii), lovely purple-flowered Colorado Four O'Clock, freckled milkvetch (Astragalus, also known as Locoweed), Wild Carrot and broad swaths of bright little yellow Sundrops north of Globe in the shadow of the Apache Peaks mountains. Verbena and Indian Paintbrush, too; and "Antelope horns" Asclepias milkweed flowers. Sego lilies, too!.
can still be found at higher elevations, along with Rabbit Thorn (unusual
greenish-white flowers) and Buckbrush (Ceanothus gregii) along the dirt roads
leading up to popular Pinal Mountain trails such as the Toll Road, Six-shooter
and Ice-House Canyon Trails. Lupines (notably Coulter's and Bajada) are
strong along these dirt roads into the Pinals. You need Pinal Mountain hiking trail maps? Call staff at the Globe Chamber of Commerce (928) 425-4495 or else the Tonto National Forest local ranger station (928) 402-6200.
Round Mountain Park Round Mountain Park, just five minutes drive from downtown Globe, is a great place to visit for unusual flowers - and this week many remain at peak inflorescence. Sleepy Catchfly is a fun plant to seek here - look for them along the East Trail, which is also the best one for vivid purple Hedgehog Cacti. Dark blue Larkspur (Delphinium parishii) are blooming along this trail, Blue Phacelia and its relative Phacelia crenulata are both vivid and also the white Mariposa ambigua. Wild Onions peaked earlier in April but you'll still find a few of them along with False Garlic, Blackfoot Daisies, Wallflower and yellow Bladderpod Mustard. How to find Round Mountain Park? Driving east, the park is a left-hand turn (north) at the Country Kitchen restaurant, if you reach the crossroads of highway 60 and 70, you went just a little too far.
Our High Trail is not wheelchair accessible, and is a more challenging hike - and rich rewards await the botano-phile on this path. Peak color along the high trail occurs from late March through Mid-April. Quen Creek is running strong, and this week you'll lots of green Miner's Lettuce and also healthy growth of the yellow Bush Penstemon (Keckiella antirrhinoides ssp. microphylla) found near the east end of this trail - above the suspension bridge. Those will flower later this Spring, along with White Phlox which can be found along the middle of this trail, and patches of Betony or Red Mint (Stachys coccinea) downhill as you walk down the carved-into-rock steps, approximately across from the main trail's marker #42 and olive grove. As you reach the east end of the High Trail you can't miss the impressive Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens), a native plant which may hold the record in the Most Nicknames category with other monikers including "Flaming Sword," "candlewood," "slimwood," "coachwhip," Jacob's staff," and "Vine Cactus."
Every visitor should make a point of seeing the Demonstration Garden, a collection with packed-earth paths that are flat and particularly suitable for wheelchairs and walkers. Convenient nearby parking is nearby at the picnic ground, too; request that when you arrive. Spring in the Demonstration Garden means dozens of species are in bloom, both native and exotic. The Hummingbird-Butterfly Garden is a short walk downhill from the Visitor Center and also near the picnic area parking lot, and has color flowers including Turk's cap, aloe and Mexican sage plants to attract pollinators.
If your time is limited and flowers are the one and only goal of your visit, head directly to the Demonstration Garden immediately when you arrive at the Arboretum. Mesa plein air painter Burdell Moody describes the Demonstration Garden as "a Monet gardenscape come to life." Request picnic area parking when you arrive at the Arboretum, and you can park conveniently in our lower parking lot. The Demonstration Garden has abundant color, packed earth paths that are wide, flat and easily negotiated by wheelchair or walker. There are numerous places to stop, sit and enjoy the colors. Do you have a relative or housebound neighbor who seldom gets outside to enjoy Spring flowers due to a disability or trouble walking? Plan a picnic this week and accompany your friend or relative on a leisurely excursion through the Demonstration Garden.
Demonstration Garden Flowers
Acacia rigidula Blackbrush Acacia
Aloe claviflora hybrid
Aloe commutata hybrid
Aloe striata Coral Aloe
Aloe striata hybrid Coral Aloe Hybrid
Aloe variegata Partridge Breast Aloe
Aloe x 'Blue Elf' Blue Elf Aloe
Alyogyne hueglii Blue Hibiscus
Aquilegia chrysantha Golden Columbine
Aster filifolius South African Bush Aster
Baileya multiradiata Desert Marigold
Berlandiera lyrata Chocolate Flower
Bulbine frutescens Orange & Yellow Bulbine
Calliandra californica Baja Fairy Duster
Calliandra eriophylla Fairy Duster
Calylophus hartwegii Sierra Sundrops
Cercis canadensis var. mexicana Mexican Redbud
Cistus x corbariensis White Rockrose
Cistus x purpureus Purple Rockrose
Cylindrophyllum speciosum Red Spike Ice Plant
Dicliptera resupinata Arizona Foldwing
Dimorphotheca sinuata African Daisy
Drosanthemum floribundum Dew Plant
Dyssodia pentachaeta Golden Dyssodia
Echinocereus Boycethompsonii Boyce Thompson Hedgehog
Encelia farinosa Brittle Bush
Eremophila 'valentine' Valentine Emu Bush
Eremophila maculata Spotted Emu Bush
Erigeron divergens Fleabane Daisy
Erigeron karvaskianus Santa Barbara Daisy
Eriogonum fasiculatum Flat-topped Buckwheat
Escholtzia californica California Poppy
Eucalyptus leucoxylon 'rosea' White Iron Bark
Euphorbia rigida Golden Spurge
Euryops pectinatus viridus Euryops Daisy
Ferocactus pilosus Red-spined Barrel
Gaillardia pulchella Indian Blanket
Gazania 'Copper King' Copper King Gazania
Gazania 'Sun Gold' Sun Gold Gazania
Gelsemium sempervirens Carolina Jessamine
Herita chirifolia Sun Daisy
Isomeris arboreus Bladderpod
Jasminum polyanthum Pink Jasmine
Justicia californica Chuparosa
Justicia candicans Red Justicia
Justicia jujuyensis Mexican Honeysuckle
Justicia sonorae Sonoran Justicia
Lavandula 'Goodwin Creek'
Lavandula multifida. Fern-leaf Lavender
Lavatera maritima Tree Mallow
Layia platygosa Tidy Tips
Limonium perezii Sea Lavender
Linaria maroccana Moroccan Toadflax
Linum grandiflora var. rubrum Red Flax
Lonicera sempervirens Trumpet Honeysuckle
Malephora crocea Croceum Ice Plant
Malephora lutea Rocky Pt. Ice Plant
Nemophila maculata Five Spot
Nemophila meinzies Baby Blue Eyes
Oenothera speciosa Mexican Primrose
Opuntia basilaris Beaver Tail Cactus
Osteomeles fruticosa Trailing African Daisy
Oxalis crassipes Pink Wood Sorel
Oxalis pes-caprae Bermuda Buttercup
Penstemon eatonii Firecracker Penstemon
Penstemon fendleri Fendler's Penstemon
Penstemon parryi Parry's Penstemon
Penstemon superbus Superb Penstemon
Penstemon triflorus Hill Country Penstemon
Phacelia californica California Blue Bells
Psilostrophe tagetina Paper Flower
Rhus ovata Sugar Bush
Rosa banksiae Lady Bank's Rose (white & yellow)
Rosmarinus officinalis 'prostratus' Prostrate Rosemary
Russelia equisetiformis Coral Fountain
Salvia clevlandii Blue Sage
Salvia farniacea Mealycup Sage
Salvia greggii Autumn Sage (various colors)
Senna (Cassia) artemisioides Feathery Cassia
Senna (Cassia) phyllodinea Silver Cassia
Sophora secundiflora Mescal Bean, Texas Mtn. Laurel
Spharalcea ambigua Globe Mallow (Orange & Pink)
Stachys coccinea Betony
Tetraneuris acaulis Angelita Daisy
Teucrium fruticans 'Azureum' Bush Germander
Verbena goodingii Goodings Verbena
Verbena pulchella gracilior Moss Verbena
Yucca rigida Blue Yucca
DRIVING WEST ON HWY 60 (approaching from Globe-Miami)
After visiting the Arboretum drive East along highway 60 another six miles up and through Queen Creek Canyon, a particularly scenic stretch of highway that lies between Superior and the Oak Flat campground of the Tonto National Forest. Care to learn more about this highway? Visit the website
then click the "Phoenix and Central" link to access the "Gila-Pinal
Scenic Road" link. It's a website worth visiting, with photos of
the rock formations and scenery along this singular stretch of road. Its easy
to be distracted by the towering hoodoos and eroded rock formations in Queen
Creek Canyon and Devil's canyon, but look along the roadsides for patches
of deer vetch and firecracker penstemon on the north side of the road at the
base of the cliffs. January and February rains recharged the waterfall above
mile marker #229, just uphill and east of the Queen Creek tunnel. This four-story
waterfall is well worth looking for as you drive past. The waterfall is a
popular spot for rock climbing, and accessible, too. To get there park at
the roadside pullout just below and west of the waterfall. Look for the "50
MPH" sign and walk outside of the guardrail about 150 yards uphill and
to the waterfall. You'll probably see rock climbers' cars parked here; Queen
Creek Canyon is among the best spots in Arizona for bouldering. While you're
walking look for deer vetch (Lotus rigidus), firecracker penstemon
(Penstemon eatonii), pepper grass (Lepidium lasiocarpum),
and wild heliotrope (Phacelia
distans). Seven-foot tall tree tobacco plants are found at the west
entrance to the Queen Creek Tunnel, their yellow tube-shaped flowers are favored
During April look for deer vetch, tufted evening primrose and firecracker penstemon all adding their accents of color to the roadside as you drive uphill through Queen Creek Canyon just five miles east of the arboretum. Verbena patches are stronger this week near the Oak Flat campground.
No wildflower drive would be complete without thick patches of photogenic poppies, so keep driving. Even during drought years robust patches of Mexican goldpoppies are easily found blooming through cracks in the sidewalk pavement and along the highway near mileposts 244-246, most vibrant of all near the Phelps-Dodge Rod Plant just East of Miami as you drive through the small community of Claypool. Robust patches of goldpoppies are vivid right along highway 60 in Miami, Claypool and Globe.
Hike the excellent trails of Globe's Round Mountain Park during April for wallflower, desert onion, sego lilies and hedgehog cacti all at their peak.
During March manzanita shrubs can still be found with blossoms in Pinal Mountain foothills -- watch for red-trunked short trees with pink and white flower clusters. Pretty purple-and-white flowers on Astragalus (freckled milkvetch) can also be photographed in the lower Pinal foothills during early March. During late April and May look for the globe-shaped "Antelope Horns" variety of milkweed. It only takes about two hours from the East Valley to reach the Pinal Mountains near Globe. Accessible hiking trails in this range include the Ice House Canyon, Six-Shooter Canyon and the Kellner Trails. The Pinals are also a prime place to find spring migrant birds (Painted Redstarts returned in April, Red-faced Warblers have usually returned by May). The Pinals offer great ponderosa/spruce fir forest birdwatching. Grace's Warbler, Bridled Titmouse, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Hairy Woodpecker, and Cooper's Hawk can often be found in May along the road to Pioneer Pass. Pinal Mountain trail maps are available from the Tonto National Forest Globe Ranger Station; call 928-425-7189; check out www.globemiamichamber.com or else call the Globe Chamber of Commerce at 800-804-5623 for information about the Pinal Mountains.
For the most comprehensive and frequently updated list of wildflower reports from around Arizona visit the Desert Botanical Garden website. Please bookmark this page and return here throughout the spring as we keep it updated weekly each Spring while Spring color continues.