Last Wednesday Ed and I hiked in Marshall Gulch in the Catalina mountains. It was a beautiful, cool day, with water still flowing in the stream even though we have gone for months without appreciable rain. We found about a dozen species of flowers in bloom, some of them in great quantities. In addition to the hillsides covered with Valerian there were hundreds of the yellow
Wooton’s groundsel (Senecio wootoni).
Wooton’s groundsel plants
We were interested to see two species of Violets. the blue violet (Viola umbraticola) is seen mostly in the spring. The Canadian violet (Viola canadensis) can have a blue or pink tinge in the spring time but is mostly pure white in the summer and fall. It has seemed to me that the spring flowers are larger and have more color than the ones that decorate the forest floor in summer. Indeed, it is hard to tell them apart in the spring. The main difference, I believe, is that with the blue violet, the flower stems come right out of the ground, whereas with the Canadian violet, the flower stems branch off of leaf stems.
We also saw a few strawberries in bloom. But the biggest treat was the Spring coralroot . (Corallorhiza wisteriana), the earliest of the mountain orchids. We saw seven plants, two of them in bloom.
Many of the big tooth maple trees still had leaves. I have often wondered how they manage to send out new leaves with the old ones, crumpled as they are, still hanging on to the twigs. I found the answer, as you can see in this photograph. The new leaf is forming between the stalks of last summer’s leaves.
Big tooth maple with two old leaves, and a new leaf bud growing between them.
A dead tree with rich colors showing where the bark has fallen off
The following day Dave and I hiked at the top of the mountain, eventually making our way to some huge rock formations, clearly visible from our homes in Tucson. We sat on these rocks for a long time just taking in the incredible view. We could see other mountain ranges stretching out for over seventy miles.
The view looking south