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


  1. I'm writing down names of places your describing. Who knows since our son and family have moved to the Mesa area we may be driving thru N.M. next summer. I do love wildflowers and walks regardless of where....:)

  2. So nice to see the deer out and about and all the pretty wildflowers. The coral bells are lovely and I like that mushroom sprouting out of the dead stump.
    A friend of mine was hiking up near Cienega on Sunday and came upon a limping bear on the hill above her. She hightailed it out of there, but we hope the bear is ok and able to forage ok to prepare for winter.
    Kind of bittersweet to have to face up to the end of summer, though. Our winters are so long and can be so challenging up here. I love our beautiful summers!


  3. luv all the wonderful photos

    especially the corabells