Once in 30 years, then death

Our next stop: Borrego Springs, California – a beautiful and remote desert location, perfect for solitude, walking, and photography.

DSC05403

Our first morning we headed for the easy and scenic Yaqui Well Trail in Anza-Borrego State Park.

The Park was created in part to protect the native desert bighorn sheep that can be seen (best with binoculars) high in the mountains on precarious rocky slopes. The Park is also well known as a great place to view desert wildflowers blooming in early spring.

Only a few blooms had been spotted, but we decided to start looking for those early flowers.

We walked a distance on the trail before our first glorious flower sighting on a fishhook cactus.

We walked a distance on the trail before our first glorious flower sighting on a fishhook cactus.

We kept looking down in hopes of seeing the tiny wildflowers. We saw so few that we had to conclude that maybe we were in the wrong location for other wildflowers.

We looked up and that’s when we saw a very tall stalk reaching far over our heads, topped by a glorious yellow flower. The century plant!

We looked up and that’s when we saw a very tall stalk reaching far over our heads, topped by a glorious yellow flower. The century plant!

Only one plant we know looks like this. The century plant (Agave Americana) only blooms once, at the end of its 10-30 year lifespan. The flowering stalk can be up to 25-30 feet tall (8-9 meters).

The flower was on such a high stalk, we went to the highest point on the path to photograph it, hoping to get a better angle.

The flower was on such a high stalk, we went to the highest point on the path to photograph it, hoping to get a better angle.

What a glorious sight! And, hey, we were looking for blooming wildflowers. We’d spent so much time looking down for those very small flowers that we’d almost missed one of the most amazing blooms of the desert.

When we looked at the landscape around us, we could see other century plants, too. When you think about one bloom for each plant, every 10-30 years, then you know that it’s not an every day sighting of a century plant in full bloom.   How wonderful is that?!

 

February 2016

 

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
This entry was posted in US - California and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Once in 30 years, then death

  1. Miriam says:

    Wow, these are simply stunning photos. A well timed visit.

  2. Love the winter desert – looks like you are seeing and enjoying every part of it!

  3. cindy knoke says:

    Yep, here in Borrego. Great shots! Did you eat at Carlees?

  4. I’d say, Very wonderful! How fascinating to learn about this and to have the chance to see these very special plants.

  5. icelandpenny says:

    I always think of cacti (succulents in general) as nature’s sculptures. How extraordinary they are, and how well you have shown their lines & textures. Thanks!

  6. restlessjo says:

    That’s rather lovely! 🙂

  7. Beth and Joe, do you think this mystery plant in my post is a century plant? https://theeternaltraveller.wordpress.com/2016/02/21/mystery-on-maui/

  8. How lucky. It always pays to look up.

  9. plaidcamper says:

    Good timing! What a pleasant place to be in early spring.

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