Readers’ wildlife photos

Again, I ask for photos, though I do have a decent backlog.

Reader Susan Heller sent me these photos, taken in the Anza-Borrego desert, back in March, but I lost her email until last weekend. It was a good year for desert flowers in the American southwest, and she documents it. I always wondered, when I saw a rare bloom in Death Valley (not more than once every one or two decades) where the insects came from that were out pollinating the flowers. How did they know there was a bloom? After all, they can’t survive anywhere where there isn’t a regular bloom, and they can’t fly a hundred miles to sip some nectar. Readers?

Susan’s introduction: “I spent a lovely day in the desert checking out the wildflowers in different areas: it’s a super bloom this year. Enjoy!”

Readers able to identify the plants and insects, please do so.



  1. Posted October 3, 2017 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Beautiful photos. Thank you. I can’t identify any of them but I do have a question. I gather flowering plants in general are quite a recent thing in evolutionary terms. Is it possible / likely / conceivable that there will be in the future (say 150 million years from now, if all goes well …) a type of plant that is radically different from what exists today. I mean radically different – plants that can move around, plants that can see, make a noise … I’m not a biologist so it may be a senseless question.

    • ploubere
      Posted October 3, 2017 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

      My knowledge of evolution is from books such as Jerry’s. My understanding is that those changes would only come about if it increased the chances of reproduction, and each step would have to have some benefit. But also, each change has to be to existing structures, so plants would have to adapt their existing tissues gradually to movement. That might be difficult, given their lack of central nervous and cardiovascular systems.

      But then, there are plants that move, such as venus flytraps. So maybe.

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted October 3, 2017 at 8:06 am | Permalink


    To be said with a simultaneous gasp, that is, not as in a long and mouthy but short and puffed more like WOAH…

  3. Posted October 3, 2017 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    I can name most of them, except the first one is pretty mixed. Justicia californica is probably the red-flowered shrub.

    2) field of Geraea canescens (Asteraceae)
    3) Geraea canescens
    4) field of Oenothera deltoides (Onagraceae)
    5) larva of white-lined sphinx moth — a major consumer of wildflowers on the CA deserts, esp. wildflowers in the families Onagraceae & Nyctaginaceae.
    6) Mammillaria dioica (Cactaceae)
    7) Oenothera deltoides (Onagraceae) — “dune primrose”
    8) Opuntia basilaris (Cactaceae)– “beavertail cactus”

    • Anna
      Posted October 3, 2017 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      Thank you for the IDs!

  4. Merilee
    Posted October 3, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Beautiful, Susan!

  5. Posted October 3, 2017 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Lovely pictures and memories! In my former life I lived in San Diego (…*sigh*…), and I loved the Anza Borego desert.

  6. Greg Mills
    Posted October 3, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Susan for the photos. I grew up in the San Diego area and have a fond spot for Anza-Borego.

    With all the rain this past year I presume that next year will be good for flowers as well? Or do they skip a year?

    Thanks Achrachno, pretty impressive.

  7. littleboybrew
    Posted October 3, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    We visited Anza-Borrego for the first time in early February. Enjoyed seeing it in full bloom. Thanks for the photos.

  8. Mark R.
    Posted October 3, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Desert flowers are stunning! Thanks for sharing these rare beauties.

  9. Grant Palmer
    Posted October 3, 2017 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    What address do I send the photos to

  10. Wayne Y Hoskisson
    Posted October 3, 2017 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    The Red flowered bush in the first photo is probably spiny hopsage, Grayia spinosa. The white flowers on the left are probably a Lepidium species. The yellowish flowers are probably Descurainia pinnata. Both are Brassicaceae. The green shrub with the small yellow flowers is probably black brush, Coleogyne ramosissima.

    In the fourth photo the small purplish flower among the primrose is probably a Phacelia. It is hard to tell from the photo.

    • Posted October 4, 2017 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      Probably too late to help, but here’s some clarification. I must disagree! See my comments above.

      The red flowered shrub is certainly not Grayia. Justicia is still my best guess, though the photo is not close enough to be sure. Grayia is a Mojave Desert plant and unlikely to be found in Anza-Borrego, except at higher elevations than this photo site. And it just doesn’t look like that!

      The white flowers to the left are probably Chaenactis, but they’re too distant to tell 100% for sure (99%?) or which species, but given the early date I’d guess C. fremontii — a common plant at A-B.

      There is no Coleogyne in the picture — again a Mojave Desert species and doesn’t look like anything in the image. Sorry to be disagreeable, but I’ve spent too many years studying the flora of So. CA not to have a few opinions about this stuff.

  11. ploubere
    Posted October 3, 2017 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Great flower pics. I love Anza-Borrego, it is beautiful country.

%d bloggers like this: