17 de mayo de 2020

Another fine mess

I stumbled on a taxonomic revision reputedly clarifying certain relationships among Mentzelia section Bartonia including what I and most others in Arizona have been identifying as Mentzelia multiflora. It states that the material in Arizona formerly regarded as M. multiflora is one of three varieties of M. longiloba. (M. multiflora remains, limited to New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming.) Much of the Arizona material in SEINet may have originally been identified as M. multiflora var. longiloba (or ssp. longiloba) but carelessly left off the variety (a common occurrence with other taxa). M. multiflora ssp. longiloba is listed as a synonym in the FNA treatment of M. longiloba. (That treatment was provided by one of the authors of the revision.) POWO excludes M. multiflora from Arizona.

One thing that strikes me about the key in the revision is that it relies on some mighty fine details in features and measurements, things that are difficult or impossible to see in iNat photos. SEM photos of the seed coat? Nope, no pocket SEMs, just as there are no pocket PCR and DNA sequencing kits for the field. Maybe someday... So geography is going to have to suffice, at least for M. longiloba.

As there are no iNaturalist observations of M. longiloba in Arizona (beyond a pair of mine that I changed yesterday) I wanted to run this by some of the working botanists in the region before making changes to the numerous M. multiflora observations in Arizona. @danbeckman, @aspidoscelis, @jdmore, @frankiecoburn, any comments on this revision?

Ingresado el 17 de mayo de 2020 por stevejones stevejones | 8 comentarios | Deja un comentario

28 de abril de 2020

Delayed response

I've noticed recently that the local desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata) population has increased substantially this year. I suspect that the heavy October 2018 rains stimulated many seeds to germinate, as happened with so many other species at the time. Desert marigold is a short-lived perennial that only begins flowering in its second season so I only now noticed the population jump.

Desert marigold flowers are a good place to look for native pollinators and for the spiders that hunt them. Look amongst and below the petals for the latter. I can't remember having seen a feral honeybee working their blossoms, though they are a seemingly constant presence on brittlebush and other flowers. Perhaps they are too heavy and tip them. Or maybe I'm just forgetful.

Ingresado el 28 de abril de 2020 por stevejones stevejones | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario

19 de abril de 2020


Back again to the wash I visited on the 9th, but this time with the intention of making some collections. I hadn't pressed a plant in over a year. But as noted at the link above, there were beautiful specimens, given the nutrients released by last year's fire. I found three new taxa this time as well, Spermolepis lateriflora, Erythranthe rubella and Phacelia cryptantha. I didn't collect the Erythranthe - only saw half a dozen or so plants.

Ingresado el 19 de abril de 2020 por stevejones stevejones | 17 observaciones | 1 comentarios | Deja un comentario

10 de abril de 2020

Another Mountain fire revisit

I took another walk up the wash I visited just before, and a few times after, the Mountain fire on the Tonto National Forest last June. What a difference! The wildflower display was exceptional. Glandularia gooddingii was especially abundant and scented the air the whole time I was there. Mexican poppies and Texas toadflax also had good shows. Non-native filaree was abundant (as during my last visit) though done flowering and now distributing its corkscrew seed everywhere.

The fire released many nutrients into the soil and the annual plants there are making good use of the bounty. But no flowering was seen on the shrubs like Quercus turbinella, Rhus aromatica, Rhamnus ilicifolia and others. I suspect that flowering occurs on second-season growth on these shrubs, and they haven't had a second season; all living tissue is regrowth. As noted before, though, almost all the individual shrubs survived at the crown and are returning.

The animal life is returning as well. In January I saw exactly one other animal life form besides me, a single honeybee. Today I heard a Northern Mockingbird, heard and saw a pair of Mourning Dove, and heard some Black-throated Sparrows calling. Common Buckeyes lived up to their name. Other pollinators were there as well, and one Pallid Grasshopper stopped long enough for a couple of photos.

Many Homo sapiens were in the area, though not up this wash, as the wash is fenced at the road. If not for the fence, they would have been up there as well. Numerous OHVs were going up and down the unfenced washes on the north side of Horseshoe Dam Road. Near-constant traffic. Tonto National Forest is a popular destination for those seeking to relieve their CoViD-19-induced boredom.

I found and removed a couple of dozen Oncosiphon piluliferum plants; all individuals, likely arising from seed blown into the area by wind. Slowed the invasion I hope, but did not, and cannot, stop it.

About half the locations are approximate; the lithium batteries in my GPS stopped lithing.

Ingresado el 10 de abril de 2020 por stevejones stevejones | 51 observaciones | 1 comentarios | Deja un comentario

01 de abril de 2020

Just seedlings

These are the seedlings in the RestoreNet sites at Scottsdale Community College and at Lake Pleasant. I wanted to share them with several people and this seemed the easiest way to do it.

Ingresado el 01 de abril de 2020 por stevejones stevejones | 6 observaciones | 1 comentarios | Deja un comentario

31 de marzo de 2020

Field season

Three weeks of field season with the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy field institiute have now ended. We worked on three studies: testing fountain grass and buffelgrass removal methods, best methods of restoring abandoned trails, and a local RestoreNet project. The latter included a site at Scottsdale Community College and another near Lake Pleasant where several of the native perennial bunchgrass species are beginning to sprout. I've included photos here (and hope to have the names sorted out soon - info not in my hands at the moment).

Ingresado el 31 de marzo de 2020 por stevejones stevejones | 24 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

23 de marzo de 2020


I violated my usual rule about visiting the Tonto National Forest today. That rule is "never go out on weekends". It seems that most of Phoenix had the same idea. I have never seen so many campers and visitors. Given curent conditions, I can't blame them. Movies? Out. Desert Botanical Garden? Closed. Church? Uh-uh. It was a beautiful spring day so why not?

I was curious as to whether the mariposa lilies along the road to Humboldt Peak were open. They were not. But I was not disappointed. I saw an amazing cluster of Oenothera cespitosa across a steep wash and stumbled my way over to it. Deep grass and uncertain rocky footing complicated matters. It was worth the trip.

While stumbling to my goal I could not ignore the rattling of gunfire coming from one of the several unofficial firing ranges north of the Camp Creek area. Someone burned through about $1000 worth of ammunition with an automatic weapon or more likely a semiautomatic fixed with a bumpstock. Wonder what the hell they were shooting.

But crowds, gunfire and all it was a wonderful break from field work and this perch in front of my iMac.

Ingresado el 23 de marzo de 2020 por stevejones stevejones | 40 observaciones | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario

26 de febrero de 2020

Bluedicks confusion

For some time I've been blithely marking observations of bluedicks (a name which induces tittering among elementary school students on field trips, encouraging the use of the alternate common name "desert hyacinth" with that audience) as Dichelostemma capitatum. Correct, as far as it goes, but there are two subspecies, capitatum (the nominative subspecies) and pauciflorum. Only the latter is found in Arizona. Unfortunately, the SEINet range map has a sizeable number of Arizona collections labeled as ssp. capitatum. As I explained here:

"There's a large number of specimens labeled Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum on the SEINet range map. All of these were originally identified as either Dichelostemma pulchellum (the vast majority) or Brodiea capitata. When the names of these two taxa were updated to D. capitatum in the SEINet database they were assigned to the nominative subspecies. Oops. FNA has accurate distribution maps of the subspecies capitatum and pauciflorum."

I've been trying lately to be sure to add subspecific names where known or where identifiable, because occasionally a subspecies or variety is "promoted" to species or otherwise renamed.

(Thanks to @rupertclayton for tipping me to the subspecies issue.)

Ingresado el 26 de febrero de 2020 por stevejones stevejones | 5 comentarios | Deja un comentario

19 de febrero de 2020

The thrill is the hunt

After stumbling upon a pair of Lycium macrodon plants yesterday at the Reach 11 Recreation Area in the City of Phoenix, I was re-invigorated to search for a plant that I futilely hunted 8 or 10 years ago. This specimen of L. macrodon was collected in 1965 by the eminent Arizona botanist Elinor Lehto along "Scottsdale Road, 2 miles North of Bell Road."
Knowing that this area is Arizona state trust land, I lamented that I had not renewed my Arizona State Land Recreation Permit recently. In the past, the permit was only available by traveling to the state land department on West Adams just east of the state capitol. In the early days of the permit process, the office to which one applied was downstairs in the basement in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door reading "Beware of the Leopard." In more recent years it was possible to apply by printing out a form and mailing it in with a check.
But now we have entered the electronic age and I secured a permit within minutes by filling out this form and paying the permit fee and a one dollar surcharge. I printed out pdf's of the recreational permit and the dashboard vehicle permit and went to bed confident that I could continue the search instanter.
My search today also proved futile, but it was a fine adventure nonetheless. At that elevation the bellyflower annuals are flowering and fruiting moreso than where I live. It also demonstrated to me that in general people are awful. The quantity of flotsam and jetsam of modern life that have been deposited in piles or broadcast across the landscape was remarkable. It reminded me of the line from Yente in Fiddler on the Roof: "If god lived on earth, people would break his windows."

Ingresado el 19 de febrero de 2020 por stevejones stevejones | 43 observaciones | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

29 de enero de 2020

Fire and water

Another visit to the Mountain fire area and then to a wash downstream of the fire. The wash is fed in part by the burned watershed. Nothing much new to report from the burned area, beyond the sprouting of Marah gilensis vines. A literal ground-breaking event - there were cracks in the soil where one of them was sprouting. Other than that and a small cluster of mushrooms near it, the area looked much as it did last visit.

The wash downstream was a different story. This is the wash where I found four Abutilon parishii plants. There are three now, because a flood last November took out the larger plant.

In previous trips to the wash from above, I was able to travel only so far before the vegetation became impenetrable. Approaching from below (as I did last June) I also could walk only so far before the wash was again impenetrable.

It is impenetrable no more. The flood that took out the abutilon also cleared a path through the third of a mile or so that had remained unexplored. It's not easy to get through - much climbing over or crawling under fallen trees - but it's possible. For now.

Another contrast: at the burn area site, I saw exactly one animal besides myself: a honeybee working filaree flowers. I heard no birds; not one. I stopped every now and then to glass the area. Nothing. At the lower wash site, there must have been a hundred birds in the first quarter-mile of the hike. Cardinals, canyon and Abert's towhees, a sparrow I didn't know (though I have some sketchy photos [ETA - immature white-crowned sparrow]), phainopeplas, cactus wrens, gnatcatchers and some calls I didn't recognize. Further up the wash where the walls are steep, canyon wrens. Not calling, but bitching about my presence. Can't blame 'em.

Ingresado el 29 de enero de 2020 por stevejones stevejones | 84 observaciones | 1 comentarios | Deja un comentario