Flower Watch with Kate Harper


Last updated 4/24/2024 at 12:35pm

Caterpillar on Sand Verbena

As of March 24, 2024 (press deadline), the Henderson Canyon Flower Fields are past their peak flower show. However, beautiful blooms abound among the drying leaves. Be sure to wander the fields to experience the variety, shapes, and colors of the blooms. You'll even encounter isolated pockets of higher soil moisture and green plants. The spectacle is still worth a visit.

The unpredictable combination of daily temperature and wind will dictate how long these last blooms remain.

The caterpillars have arrived! Look for the White-lined Sphinx Moth caterpillars (Hyles lineata). They are busy voraciously munching away on plants. When they grow big enough, they bury themselves in the sand and emerge later as gorgeous adult moths. The White-lined Sphinx Moth, nicknamed the Hummingbird Moth because it hovers around tube-shaped flowers, is an important desert pollinator. As it softly flutters about sipping nectar, it transfers pollen from one flower to another.

The White-lined Sphinx Moth is typically most active at dusk and into the evening. If you think you see a Hummingbird at dusk, it will be the Hummingbird Moth! This pretty moth is the primary pollinator of the Dune Evening Primrose – those big, white, low-growing beauties. Big white flowers are an indication of nighttime pollination. The white color pops out at dusk and at night reflects moonlight. The flowers are laden with nectar and emit a sweet and aromatic scent to draw the moths in. The scent grows stronger at dusk and into the night. Bend down and see if you can catch a whiff of the sweet scent.

To see what the flowers listed below look like before you head out, search online at BorregoWildflowers.org.

If you want an app in the flower fields, I recommend the Anza-Borrego Wildflowers app – available for both Android and iOS (iPhone). The app has hundreds of flower photos and you can even search by flower color.

Plants flowering in the Henderson Canyon Road Flower Fields (North side, 2.1 miles east of Di Giorgio Road x Henderson Canyon Road intersection, 1.1 mile east of Borrego Valley Road x Henderson Canyon Road intersection):

SHOWY FLOWERS that jump out at you:

Brown Eyed Primrose (Chylismia claviformis subsp. peirsonii) Slightly nodding red-brown centers with white petals.

Desert Pincushion (Chaenactis stevioides) Medium-sized white flowers poking out from a somewhat rounded plant.

Desert Sand Verbena (Abronia villosa var. villosa) Purplish-pink, low-growing clusters.

Desert Sunflower (Geraea canescens) Tall golden-rayed sunflowers with gold centers.

Dune Evening Primrose (Oenothera deltoides subsp. deltoides) Big, white, low-growing beauties.

Dune Sunflower (Helianthus petiolaris subsp. canescens) Tall golden-rayed sunflowers with dark centers.

Noticeable, if looking closer, FLOWERS:

Yellow Blazing Star species (Mentzelia sp.) Medium-small, yellow, flowers.