Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Signs of Spring

About half an inch of rain has drenched the central valley of Phoenix over the past month, which is plenty of moisture to excite seeds to germinate and dormant shrubs to leaf out. The well-armed branches of Ocotillo (Fouqueria splendens) are some of the first to respond to winter rains, transforming what appeared to be dead sticks into a splendid green wands.

On the desert floor, a carpet of seedlings is beginning to form. In the shade of shrubs and trees, around rocks and in swells of litter that were deposited by sheet flow of heavier rains, Burr Comb (Pectocarya recurvata) are some of the first to pop up. If we continue to be blessed with even an eighth of an inch every 10 days or so from now till March, this could be another banner year for desert wildflowers!

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