Parus Trail Zion Wildflower Walk, with excuses – May 1 2012

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Did a bunch of errands today, which brought me through the Park. So, yeah, why not stop and take a brief walk and maybe a few pics, see what’s blooming on the Parus trail, starting from Canyon Junction and heading south. Being about 7 pm, the sun was already behind the West Temple – good for the heat or lack thereof; not so good for getting good flower pics. So many pics here are… kinda abstract. A hefty breeze did not help – heck I didn’t even BRING the tripod until some nice folks alerted me to a wonderful clump of Claret Cup…

There are two parts, really, to this Zion: Wildflowers project. Part A is to try to get amazing pictures of all the species in Zion NP; and Part B is to record and map out the bloom times and locations of the most prominent species. So even a walk with no quality pictures has value if  it records what is blooming where and when.

See, I’ve got the excuses lined up, ready to go.

Bad photo - must be an art shot.

To the flora!  Again, not much in bloom. It’s been dry. There is a lot of grass, possibly as a holdover from the last two years which were really good for the grasses. Most Cacti are not blooming yet, even in Zion Canyon.

First, some blue thing. They were all closed up with the wind (I think), but looks like Utah Daisy (Erigeron utahensis). There were quite a few of these. Then some Golden Cryptantha (Cryptantha confertiflora); — not unexpected —  there were a few clumps of this scattered about.  Bunch of Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata) around. Also scattered specimens of Desert Globemallow (Sphaeralcea grossulariifolia) about, perhaps less than expected.

Nightshade berries, freeze-dried over the winter?

The next was a mystery — every good flowerwalk needs a mystery.  In this case berries (fruits) from last season and a few new leaves at the base. I consider this a good test of Derrick’s sleuthing skills…  OK, results are in. Took him 27 minutes — not bad, but not stellar either – he put forth Solanum elaeagnifolium as a likely suspect (some kind of Nightshade, berries toxic).

Perhaps the most prominent flower out on this day was this nice Asteraceae, the Gaillardia (Gaillardia pinnatifida).

Gaillardia pinnatifida bloom closeup.

But the big find was a nice clump of Claret Cup Cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus) which, low to the ground, was unaffected by the wind. A sprint back to the station wagon for the tripod and, a few minutes later, there I was, groveling on the ground, trying to get some images in the fading light.

The lovely Claret Cup Cactus

Back home, a wonderful Samuel Smith Tadcaster Ale and a worthy hunk of Salmon completed a delightful day.

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