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Hurricane Effects on Desert Plant Life

These pages show the effects of the large quantity of rainfall from Hurricane Jimena which struck the central Baja California peninsula in September 2009. The first photos were taken about 3 weeks post-hurricane (Sep 27-Oct 8, 2009). A follow-up set of photos was taken for a number of the same scenes about 7-9 weeks after Jimena (Nov 22-Dec 4, 2009). Look for differences in the two sets in terms of the amount of vegetation and color.

Click on any photo for a larger image.

For more on Hurricane Jimena itself, visit these pages: Jimena links | Jimena Aftermath | Jimena's Legacy

Just a few photos from the northern range of the hurricane´s path, near El Volcán las Tres Vírgenes.
Tres Virgenes area
Road side with lots of annual grasses
and beginning of perennials.
Near Vado Lester, Nov 2009Not exactly the same scene, but very closeby. Nov 22. Jatropha cinerea and J. cuneata turning yellow.
The following set of photos were taken at the top of the final grade about a mile before the highway
drops to the Gulf of California and into Santa Rosalía. The first row has a partial panorama from left to right. In Sep 2009, the hillsides in all directions were carpeted in yellow (mostly Pectis papposa) and green (small annual grasses like Bouteloua aristidoides and B. barbata). In December, the ground cover was all but dried up. The only obvious plant still in bloom was Allionia incarnata (Trailing windmills).
Grade just north of Santa Rosalia
Sep 27
Grade just north of Santa Rosalia
Sep 27
Grade north of Santa Rosalia, November 2009Dec 4 Grade north of Santa Rosalia, Nov 2009Dec 4
Grade just north of Santa RosaliaSep 27 Grade north of Santa Rosalia, Nov 2009
Dec 4
The following set of photos was taken just south of the Mulegé Pemex station in an extended dune field which is part of El Gallito point. In October, grasses (Pennisetum ciliare, Bouteloua barbata, B. aristidoides v. aristidoides and Cenchrus palmeri) and Amaranth (Amaranthus watsonii) tended to dominate. Other annual or perennial plants had sprouted and had some growth, but mostly had no flowers yet.

In late November, there was a large variety of plants in full bloom and many had well-developed fruit. Some of the species seen were: Tidestromia lanuginosa (Honeysweet), Euphorbia eriantha (Louse spurge), Euphorbia polycarpa (Sand spurge), Phaseolus filiformis (Slimjim pea), Trianthema portulacastrum (Horse purslane) and Proboscidea althaeifolia (Devil´s claw).
Field south of Mulege
Field south of Mulegé Pemex
Oct 6
Field south of Mulege
Field south of Mulegé Pemex

Nov 28
Dune area south of Mulege
El Gallito dunes south of Mulegé Pemex
Oct 6

Dunes south of Mulege
Not exactly the same shot (Nov 28) but very close to the same area. Note the forground colors as well as the mid-band of yellowing shrubs.
Field south of Mulege
Field south of Mulegé Pemex
Oct 6
El Gallito dunes, south of Mulege
El Gallito dunes south of Mulegé Pemex
Nov 28
The following photos were taken in the Mulegé Valley, just out of town to about about 4 miles west of town.
Mulege Valley by Colonia El Ranchito
Agricultural fields in the Mulegé valley overtaken mainly by Amaranthus watsonii and Panicum virgatum. Oct 7.
Mulege Valley agricultural fields
Same fields Nov 29. A portion of the Amaranth has been cut down and livestock was grazing.

  Mulege Valley fields
Same fields, Mulegé Nov 29
Mulege Valley arroyo, October 2009
Arroyo bank in Mulegé valley, Oct 7

Mulege Valley arroyo, November 2009
Same arroyo bank, Nov 29. Jatropha cinerea (Lomboy) already losing leaves and annual grasses dried up.
Mulege Arroyo, October 2009
Vaseyanthus insularis (Wild cucumbers) in arroyo, Mulegé valley Oct 7
Mulege Arroyo, Nov 2009
Same plants, Nov 29

Mulege arroyo, Oct 2009
Arroyo bed, Oct 7

Mulege arroyo, Nov 2009
More or less the same view, Nov 29. Mainly note the dry grass on the other side of the arroyo.
Cucumber vines in Mulege valley, Oct 2009
Vaseyanthus insularis and Echinopepon minimus (wild cucumber vines) along the arroyo bank, Oct 7.


Cucumbers in Mulege valley, Nov 2009
Unlike most of the plants in the valley which were getting drier, the cucumber vines, as well as Coyote melons, (see below) were actually more lush and growing like mad.
Topiary figures created by cucmber vines
Topiary figures in the valley, created by the wild cucumber vines, Nov 29.
Cucumber vines, Mulege valley, Nov 2009
More topiary figures.

More topiary figures
More topiary figures. The red is Trianthema portulacastrum (Horse purslane).




Coyote melonsCoyote melons (Cucurbita cordata) vines. These plants were seen in large numbers. The vines, coming out from under trees and shrubs and crossing the ground looked like giant tentacles. Made me think of the utterly silly movie "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes". Yikes, watch out or the coyote melons will get you!
Cucumber vines crossing grassy field, Nov 2009
I was walking along with my head down, the sun in my eyes, when I saw these cucumber vines in front of me, crossing on top of the short annual grass species Bouteloua aristidoides. I took the photo then moved forward and turned to try a different angle.
Cucumber vine grotto, Mulege valley
With the sun out of my eyes, I looked up and to the right and saw this incredible site, a cucumber vine grotto.



20-Nov-2011 Annual plants, Oct 2009
Annual grasses (Bouteloua aristidoides var. aristidoides, Eragrostis cilianensis), Oct 2009


Annuals plants, Nov 2009
Same grasses in their pesky stage (when Bouteloua aristidoides var. aristidoides) earns its Spanish common name "Navajitas", or little knives). You´ll know why when you get them in your socks!


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29-Nov-2009