Friday, April 27, 2012

Spring Wildflowers in the Monte Largo Mountains

Dakota Vervain Verbena bipinnatifida

Wednesday afternoon, before all the fierce wind hit Thursday, I took a hike to check on what's blooming in the Monte Largo mountains. I took the trail off Gaddis Rd. in Sandia Knolls. It was about 78 degrees F, partly cloudy, a nice day to walk in the juniper-pinon forest about 6700-7000 ft. elevation.

The trail off Gaddis Road is not marked except by some large boulders on the north side of the road.  It starts across the street and NE from 12 Gaddis Rd.  This trail follows an arroyo through forest and meadowlands up to a saddle in the Monte Largo Mountains where trails go off into different directions. 

Bernalillo County has established a small area north of Sandia Knolls neighborhood as Open Space. In addition, land owners in adjoining areas NE of the Open Space have allowed access and trails to this natural area for hikers, horseback riders and bicyclists.  No motor-driven traffic is allowed.

This trail features rocky outcroppings with
Hedgehog Cacti and Banana Yucca

Red-stemmed Filaree or Heronbill Erodium circutarium, is a member of the Geranium family and is always one of the earliest spring flowers to bloom

The spring weather has been delightfully warm.  Our last freeze was about 2 weeks ago.  I saw a lot of wildflowers that were blooming, some are  3-4 weeks earlier than normal.

 Wafer Parsnip Cymopterius constancei
(see page 11 of Jercinovic's Wildflowers of the Manzanos)

This early spring flower of the Parsley family had already bloomed and gone to seed. 
I returned May 1st and found Chimajá  Cymopterus acaulis var. fendleri
(see page 10 of Jercinovic's Wildflowers of the Manzanos)

Chimajá has a long taproot with petiole leaves borne on a false stem.  The flowers are yellow umbrells,

I think this is Wafer Parsnip Cymopterius constancei about to bloom

A Milkvetch Astragalus var., not sure of the species

Perky Sue  Tetraneuris argentea

This cut in the arroyo shows the thick root system of Blue Grama grass, the extremely xeric native grass that survives on as little as 6 inches of rain a year.  Blue Grama is New Mexico's State Grass. I use Blue Grama grass and Buffalo Grass for my yard.  It goes brown when dormant in winter, but it is now nice and green.

Baby Asters

Scarlet Globemallow Sphaeralcea coccinea

Northern Rock Jasmine  Androsace septentrionalis

 Pale Wolfberry Lycium pallidum

Scarlet Hedgehog Cactus Echincereus coccineus, one of many along this trail, are found profusely growing on the east-facing slopes

Datil or Banana Yucca  Yucca baccata is New Mexico's State Flower

Foothills Paintbrush Castilleja integra


  Slim Vetch Vicia ludoviciana Nutt.

New Mexico Locust Robinia neomexicana - not blooming yet

Gambel Oak  Quercus gambelii is a common tree in these hills.
This scrub oak  is just beginning to green up.
Wax Current Ribes cereum

Santa Fe Phlox Phlox Nana

Cutflower Puccoon or Fringed Gromwell
Lithospermum incisum

Dwarf Lousewort Pedicularis centranthera

Golden Smoke Corydalis aurea

Scarlet Hedgehog Cactus Echincereus coccineus


Perky Sue is one of the earliest Asters in the spring

Stickseed Lappula redowskii with tiny white flowers is blooming everywhere

Landowners have done a lot of clearing of dead trees that were killed off during the last Bark Beetle infestation in 2002-2004.  Today, there are nice meadows with grasses and wildflowers returning.

Looking southwest toward the Sandia Mountains

Small-flowered Milk Vetch or Nuttall Loco Astragalus nuttallianus

Hedgehog cactus and Santa Fe Phlox

Fendler's Penstemon or Purple Foxglove Penstemon fendleri

Spreading Fleabane Erigeron divergens

Horned Lizard or Horny Toad

My home is at 6900 ft. elevation. Here are some pictures of the Monte Largo mountains looking northeast from my home.

Monte Largo in summer

Monte Largo in winter


  1. always enjoy your flower posts

  2. Great rainbow and wonderful set of native wildflowers. Now that my son and family have moved to Arizona I'm looking forward to my first ever up close and personal views of the desert in bloom.... :)