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.
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.
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.