PLANTS of BIG MORONGO CANYON PRESERVE

 
 

Guide to the Plants of BMCP

The lush vegetation of Big Morongo Canyon stands in sharp contrast to the surrounding desert slopes. A high water table in the canyon has made the growth of tall trees possible, despite the desert climate. The desert springs ecosystem and Mojave Riparian Forest here are considered to be some of the best in California. In addition, the area is of botanical interest because it includes two desert vegetation zones: the Mojave and the Sonoran. Dry slopes are characterized by low creosote bush scrub. The Preserve offers food, cover and water to many resident birds, and shelters many migrant and vagrant species.

A complete index of the flora of the Preserve can be found at:

Flora of the Preserve (Updated  March, 2016 - Adobe Acrobat required)

 

Plant Communities

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve is host to a remarkable variety of plant communities:

______________________________________________________
Mojave Riparian (streamside) Forest

The Mojave Riparian Forest, which marks the course of the marshes and streams through the canyon, is formed by stands of cottonwood trees, willows, alders and mesquite.

Each tree is uniquely adapted to survive: The mesquite has very deep roots for obtaining water; the cottonwood has fluttering leaves for capturing sunlight even down to the innermost layers of leaves; the willow has an extensive root system that allows it to colonize riparian areas more quickly than other streamside trees; the alder grows faster and taller in order to overshadow the canopy of other shade-makers.

______________________________________________________
Fresh-water Marsh

Fresh-water Marsh occurs where water comes to the surface in flowing streams or boggy areas. Major plants that love this environment include cattail, rushes, sedges, watercress, water-parsnip, etc.

______________________________________________________
Desert Wash

Desert Wash occurs in dry streambeds where water flows only intermittantly after rain. Major plants found here include catalpa, catsclaw, rabbitbrush, baccharis, etc.

______________________________________________________
Creosote Bush Scrub

Creosote Bush Scrub occupies most of the flats and slopes of Morongo Valley. Some conspicuous plants here are creosote, Mojave Yucca and juniper, bushy perennials and annual flowers. The limiting growth factor of plants here is water, and consequently the leaves of most of these plants are small to reduce water loss.

______________________________________________________
Open Fields

Open fields occur in the Preserve where native vegetation has been removed in the past for grazing land. 

When disturbed land like this is allowed to recover and revegetate naturally, a predictable succession of plants will move in. If left undisturbed, the old fields would probably return to creosote bush scrub, except for the fact that the area is increasingly wetter and wetter, so it may even become pockets of fresh water marsh surounded by riparian woodland.

 

Conspicuous Plants Along the Trails

________________________
Marsh Trail

Fremont Cottonwood
Honey Mesquite
Southern Cattail
Olney Bulrush
Stinging Nettle
Red Willow
Slender Willow
Yerba Mansa
Mexican Wire Rush
Saltgrass
Datura (Jimson Weed)
Willows (4 species)
Clematis
Iris-leaved Rush
Watercress
Baccharis
Water Parsnip

________________________
Desert Willow Trail

Desert Catalpa (Desert Willow)
Honey Mesquite
Creosote Bush
Wild Rhubarb
Alkali Goldenbush
Anderson's Thornbush
Yerba Santa
Thorny-fruited Cholla
Mojave Yucca

________________________
Mesquite Trail

Honey Mesquite
Clematis
Dogbane
Wild Cucumber
Yerba Mansa
Mojave Yucca
Celery
Desert Fan Palm
Fremont Cottonwood
Honey Mesquite
Poverty Weed
Meadow Fescue
Goldenrod

________________________
Yucca Ridge Trail

Mojave Yucca
Bladder Pod
Paper-bag Bush
California Buckwheat
Creosote Bush
Live-forever
Desert Trumpet
Mormon Tea (Joint Fir)
Anderson's Thornbush
Wingscale (Hoary Saltbush)
Calico Cactus (Engelman's Hedgehog)
Parry's Cloak Fern

________________________
Canyon Trail

Arrowweed
Saltgrass
Honey Mesquite
Five-hook Bassia
Yerba Santa
Alkali Goldenbush
Mule Fat

 


Back to Top


[ Home ]

Copyright 2010 by Friends of Big Morongo Canyon Preserve.
Please read the Disclaimer regarding this web site.
Report broken links and other errors to Webmaster.