Sunday, August 19, 2012

Parsley, Sage, Coralbells and Groundsel

I'm a volunteer for the Forest Service leading Wildflower Interpretive Walks in the Cibola National Forest of the nearby Sandia Mountains during the summer.  I enjoy meeting people who come from all over to enjoy the ephemeral beauty of nature's wildflower parade in the Sandia Mountains. Yesterday, I led my last wildflower walk for the summer.  We went to the Sandia Crest and walked the South Crest Trail along the western cliff of the mountain. Another volunteer will lead the last walk of the summer August 25.  They will meet at 9AM at the Sandia Ranger Station in Tijeras and depart for a new trail, car-pooling encouraged.
I scouted the South Crest Trail on the day before the walk.  We had a huge torrent of rain the night before.  At 8:00 in the morning, many animals were out and about enjoying the cool wetness of the morning. I saw a couple of mule deer foraging along the road.  Abert Squirrels and Chipmunks scurried across the Sandia Crest Highway as I drove to the Crest at 10, 678 ft. elevation.

The cloudy skies were cooler, the temperature was in the high 50's and I regretted not bringing a light jacket.  It was refreshing, though, to have cooler weather. Thunder rumbled in the distance.

 Late summer sees an abundance of aster.  A few Canada Violets, Red Columbine, Jacob's Ladder and Sweet Cicely still bloomed in the shady spots under the forest canopy.  But the real performers right now included Parsley, Sage, Coralbells and Groundsel.  The Sandia Coralbells are a New Mexico Native and rare, only found on the rocky cliffs of the Sandia Mountains and Manzanos.  They are at their peak.

Three native New Mexican species of  Senecio (Groundsel) were blooming heartedly both in the shade and sun: Cutleaf Groundesel, Notchleaf Groundsel, and Nodding Groundsel.  Mountain Parsley with it's umbrels of tiny yellow flowers was everywhere.  Sages (that are really asters) like Fringed Sage, Louisiana Sage, and  Ragweed Sagebrush were at peak everywhere along the sunny rocky path.

Cutleaf Groundsel - Senecio eremophilus

Louisiana Sage - Artemisia ludoviciana

Fringed Sage - Artemisia frigida

Nodding Groundsel - Senecio bigelovii
Ragweed Sagebrush - Artemisa franseriodes

Notch-leaf Groundsel (leaf) - Senecio fendleri

Mountain Parsley - Pseudocymopterus montana

King’s Crown – Sedum integrifolium
grows in the cliff rocks

Jacob's Ladder - Polemonium  foliosissimum

Scarlet Paintbrush - Castilleja miniata

Dragonhead – Dracocephalum parviflorum

Pretty Cinquefoil - Potentilla pulcherrima

Twisted Pod DrabaDraba helleriana

Harebells - Campanula rotundifolia
Bindweed - Convolvulus arvensis

Fireweed - Chamerion augustifolium - by the overlook  trail by the Sandia Crest House

Coralbells - Heuchera pulchella

Sandia Coralbells grow only here and in the Manzano Mountains

Coralbells (left) and Velvet Umbrellawort - Mirabilis oblongifolia (right)

Tall Easter Daisy - Townsendia exima

Tall Easter Daisy - Townsendia exima

Pingüe/Colorado Rubberweed  – Hymenoxys richardsonii

Pingüe, also called Bitterweed, has slender leaves

Western YarrowAchillea lanulosa

Oregon Grape Holly/Creeping Mahonia – Berberis repens

Richardson's Geranium - Geranium richardsonii

Canada Violet - Viola canadensis

Red Columbine - Aquilega triternata

Fendler's Sandwort - Arenaria fendleri - spread their delightful blooms 
among the rocky tundra surfaces of mountain tops
New England Aster

The involucre and leaves of New England Aster

Parry's Goldenrod - Oreochrysum parryi

Giant Hyssop - Agastache pallidiflora

Geyer's Onion - Lilium geyeri

Deer's Ears/Green Gentian - Frasera speciosa

Sweet Cicely  - Osmorhiza obtusa

Striped Coralroot - Corallorhiza striata
in the moist undergrowth of the trees

Lambert's Locoweed

Lambert's Locoweed - Oxytrophis lambertii

Whipple's or Dusky Penstemon - Penstemon whippleanus

Mushroom growing in a tree trunk

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wildflowers on 10K South Trail of Sandia Mountains

I led a wildflower walk last Saturday in the Sandia mountains.  We had 16 participants, obviously helped by the publicity in an article in The Albuquerque Journal on Thursday, August 9. We had splendid weather as we ascended to 10,000 ft. elevation via the Sandia Crest Scenic Byway to the 10K South trailhead.
We found more than 30 species of wildflowers in bloom.  Here are just a few.

Cutleaf Groundsel - Senecio eremophilus - Aster Family

Showy Daisy - Erigeron speciosus - Aster Family

Harebells - Campanula rotundifolia - Bellflower Family

Scarlet Paintbrush - Castilleja miniata - Figwort Family

Nodding Groundsel -Senecio bigelovii - Aster Family

Showy Golden-eye - Viguiera multiflora - Aster Family

Whipple's Penstemon or Dusky Penstemon -
Penstemon whippleanus - Figwort Family

Red Elderberry (fruit) - Sambucus racemosa - Honeysuckle Family

Atlantis Fritillary butterfly - Spyeria atlantis

Mountain Caraway - Aletes acaulis - Parsley Family

Tachinid Fly on a Nodding Groundsel

Cutleaf  Groundsel

Goldenrod - Solidago spp.

Louisiana Sage or White Sage -
Artemesia ludovicana - Aster Family

Velvet Unmbrellawort/Mountain Four o'clock -
Mirabilis oblongifolia - Four o'clock Family

Velvet Woodsorrel - Oxalis violaceae - Violet Family

Richardson's Geranium - Geranium richardsonii - Geranium Family

Whipple's Penstemon

Showy Golden-eye

Mountain Dandelion/Burnt-Orange Dandelion -
Agoseris aurantiaca - Aster Family

Canada Violet - Viola canadensis - Violet Family

Ragweed Sagebrush Artemisia franserioides- Aster Family

Rattlesnake Orchid - Goodyera oblongifolia Orchid Family

Sidebells/One-sided Wintergreen - Orthila secunda – Wintergreen Family

Twisted Pod Draba - Draba helleriana – Mustard Family

Bedstraw, Northern – Galium boreale – Madder Family

Sweet Cicely -  Osmorhiza obtusa – Parsley Family

Join me this Saturday at 9AM at the Sandia District Ranger Station in Tijeras.  We'll walk the South Crest Trail.  There will be some great views from that trail.

View of Albuquerque from the South Crest Trail

Another view toward La Luz Trail below the Sandia Crest