California isn’t the only US state with massive displays of annual wildflowers following rainy winters! Neighbouring Arizona is also well worth a visit–and perhaps less crowded.
Only a few hundred meters (yards) from where these photos were taken, peridot was being actively mined (though at a small-scale). This part of the San Carlos Apache Reservation is the only current site for peridot extraction in Arizona. As much as I appreciate gemstones, the Mexican gold poppies and saguaro cacti were the reason for our visit.
The current population trend for Carnegiea gigantea is downward (according to the IUCN Red List) though the species remains of Least Concern unlike many of its cactus brethren. In the USA, the number one threat is increasing urbanization, and this was obvious to us as we traveled in the Phoenix-Tucson corridor. In Mexico, the threat is land use change due to cattle-ranching. An introduced invasive, Cenchrus ciliaris or buffelgrass, is also problematic as both a competitor for water and its susceptibility to starting rapidly-burning fires (as perhaps happened to “The Grand One”, the champion saguaro cactus linked to above).
Eschscholzia californica subsp. mexicana, as you might imagine, isn’t threatened in any way. It is sometimes considered its own species of poppy (see notes in Jepson eFlora), and you can sometimes find references to it as Eschscholzia mexicana. At the least, it differs from the Eschscholzia californica in always having an annual life-cycle and seed leaves (cotyledons) that are entire. As is the case for many annuals, seeds may remain dormant in the soil for many years until sufficient rains prompt a mass bloom.
A couple of side notes: 1) For those following me on Instagram, the first photo will look similar to one I posted while on vacation, but I thought I’d post a digital SLR version of it in accompaniment to the second photo today; and 2) It was pointed out to me that some of the entries posted while I was away (and almost all older postings) had commenting disabled. I think that was an attempt at dealing with the commenting issue on the old system (remember how it took five minutes to post a comment sometimes?). I’ve re-enabled commenting for all entries, old and new.