Journal archives for November 2019

November 07, 2019

October extremes

October 2018 was the wettest in central Arizona history in about 150 years of records. October 2019 was tied for the driest. Zero precipitation. Nonetheless, life goes on. A number of plants are in flower now into November. One of the beneficiaries of last October's rains is turpentine bush. It flowered in profusion this year, while last fall - remember, the wettest recorded - it took the year off. There is a reason for this: flowering occurs on new growth from the previous spring. Spring 2018 was one of the driest on record and there was very little to no new growth that year. That was reflected in the absence of turpentine bush flowers in the fall of last year. Partially as a result of the tremendous moisture last fall, combined with a moderate spring rain regime, turpentine bushes produced a good crop of new growth in spring 2019, leading to a good flowering season this fall.

Turpentine bush is an important plant to two groups of animals: local and migratory winged insects, and seed-eating birds. The plant can cover wide swaths of ground in the Arizona Upland and interior chaparral communities. It's a productive nectar plant, and the flowers produce numerous small achenes - tiny sunflower seed-like fruit - that feed the local and migrating finches.

Posted on November 07, 2019 14:29 by stevejones stevejones | 50 observations | 6 comments | Leave a comment

November 26, 2019

Fountain grass removal the easy way

I revisited a wash on the Tonto NF that I visited pre- and post-Mountain fire last summer. The plan was to remove the fountain grass that I'd spotted on previous visits. Brought along a small pick for the job. Turns out I only needed it for two plants along the bank. The mid-wash plants were gone, along with many other mid-wash plants. The area received quite a bit of rainfall last week - 2.99 inches at Horeshoe Lake down the road. Given the loss of vegetation due to the fire, the wash - a fairly steep one - flowed high and fast. At some of the narrow points in the canyon the water ran at least head-high. There were quite a few changes. Areas that had been deeply cut in previous flows were filled, and other areas cut deeper. It was quite a bit easier to navigate the wash than last summer, too. Deep in, there is a riparian area; cottonwood-willow, grape vines, carrizo, etc. A number of willows had been knocked down and the bark stripped by the flow.

One unfortunate result was the loss of the largest of the four Abutilon parishii plants I found earlier. This one. It survived the fire only to be lost in the ensuing flood.

On a positive note, there were seedlings galore sprouting in the burned areas. More flowering than I expected as well. Even found a flowering Mexican poppy.

Posted on November 26, 2019 01:38 by stevejones stevejones | 61 observations | 4 comments | Leave a comment