Spring Has Arrived! Part 3: More Season’s Firsts

It was a sun-filled, wind-free hike through Copper’s lesser used trails. Darkling beetles were scurrying to and fro, pausing for brief seconds to let us pass, then resuming their mysterious quest to who knows where. The occasional high pitched hummmmmmmmmm of a hummingbird winging by; hopefully their search for nectar-loaded blossoms is successful.

Here and there the cholla is beginning to plump up, and shrub live oak is showing signs of blooming. Then Roy spotted the first Evening Primrose of the season, and a few steps further I noticed the first Puccoon.

Tufted Evening Primrose

Bold And Bright White! Always one of the first flowers to bloom in spring, this white Evening Primrose looks like a bright light nestled beneath dried grasses from last fall. Of the 35 species of Oenothera found in NM, only 7 are white. This one, the Tufted Evening Primrose, lies close to the ground, and in a week or so many more white flowers will join the show creating a beautiful desert bouquet.

Many flowered Puccoon

Sunny Yellow. The Puccoon, Lithospermum multiflorum, is a common plant found in these foothills. A member of the borage family, the genus Lithospermum means ”stone seed,” as it apparently has a rock hard seed. I’ll have to check that out! Also known as Wayside Gromwell, the first flowers to bloom are typically sterile, but produce nectar and pollen in flowers opening later in the spring (possibly waiting for the perfect pollinator to arrive?).

U-Mound. Why oh why is this strange little peak called U-Mound? An internet search revealed no answers. But it makes a nice landmark for our hikes.

Always learning!

5 Comments

  1. Pretty Evening Primrose! We saw a Darkling Beetle on a walk in Santa Fe, too! Sorry to hear about the waft of smoke, that is serious business there with the dryness, but so encouraging to see the Spring flowers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Karen! It is wildfire season in full bloom. With all the winds we’ve been having lately, it’s a wonder last year’s dried grasses aren’t going up in flames everywhere. We took a trip to Santa Fe today, and there were several plumes of smoke rising out of the Jemez Mountains. More wind and dry conditions in the forecast.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. sgoodman56 says:

    Sad about the fires. Why would the first blooms be sterile?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The fires have been very destructive, and are still burning our of control north of us. Santa Fe is blanketed by thick smoke. I’m guessing the first flowers are sterile because they are early and awaiting the right pollinators? Not sure, but it’s a great question. I do know that later in the season, there’s an insect that chews through the floral tube near the ovary to get the nectar. These flowers then will self pollinate! Pretty complex.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. sgoodman56 says:

        fascinating!!!

        Liked by 2 people

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