Green Mountain with DYC

dateline May 26

With the lovely cooler (for Tucson!) weather we set out for a last hike on the lower portion of the Green Mountain Trail. Starting around 8-ish from General Hitchcock, we reached the saddle (where the trail to Guthrie Mountain takes off) and completed a nice out and back walk. The exposed parts of the trail were already quite warm on the way back but the loveliness of the canyon, the unexpected hedgehog cactus blooms, and the wonderful scents made the heat easy to overlook.

Flower delights included the late-blooming hedgehog cactus, the first paintbrush of the season, bastard toadflax (a new plant for me, I think), coral bells, and late-blooming manzanita. One of the pleasures of this trail is the journey through the transition zone that includes the last of the cactus,  the coppery-bark of the manzanita, and on up into the oaks and evergreens.

For this hike, I resolved to track down one dyc (damn yellow composite). I will settle on senecio wootoni for this one, but in passing will comment that all the photos for this species that I can find are singularly unhelpful. (Imagine a brief rant about my desire for a nice botanical drawing). Here is my process: the overall look of the flower lead me to a first guess of senecio, I narrowed the choices with the Mt Lemmon plant list from the Arizona Native Plant Society, then looked at elevation and blooming period to further reduce the choices. The striking thing about the plant in question was the lack of leaves above the basal rosette, and the unusual branching of the stem (check out Northern Ontario Plant Database’s nice explanation of flower structures, or “inflorescence types.”) Happily all the books I consulted agree that Wooton’s groundsel is common here, blooms at the correct time, elevation & habitat, and has only basal leaves. However, (fanfare) the internet provided that last confirming clue, that it has a “corymbiform array” of flowers.

I will post the flowers from the same walk in October shortly.  Edit: You can find them at October Flora on the Green Mountain Trail.

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