Latest Poppy Reserve Research Field Notes and Observations
6/1/14: Mary Wilson
The reserve still has some poppies but the petals are smaller and the edges are turning yellow. They are going to seed and many of the seedpods have burst and deposited their seeds for this year’s seed bank. Desert straw is coming up and a few have produced flowers. There are tumbleweed everywhere and they range from 2 inches to 12 inches. Ragweed is making a showing. Did find a few filaree with blooms and seedpods. There are some mustard plants that still have blooms. The bush grasses, cheat and brome have gone to seed. Turkey mullein is coming up and rattlesnake weed is in bloom.
After the November 2013 rain I marked 79 plants that were new cots. In March 2014 all of those 79 were gone. However, after the February rains there were 12 new poppy plants, some fiddleneck, goldfields and blue dick. Around the plot there was a nice showing of goldfields and poppies in the hills.
On my April 11, 2014 visit there were Harvester ants all over my plot and very busy. There were three holes and an anthill at the top south section of the plot. The ants were cleaning out the hill and several ants were exploring the plot. There was a small spurge, 12 poppy plants, 72 goldfields, some filaree, three blue dick and a couple of fiddleneck.
On my April 24, 2014 visit they had cleaned the plot of everything but three poppy plants, a few goldfields, one filaree that has gone to seed, and one cream cup.
May 25, 2014 visit—Harvester ants are still cleaning the entire plot. There are 4 small tumbleweeds and 1 poppy plant left in the plot.
A project that had been contemplated for many years was to get wildflowers, especially the poppy to grow in the kiosk planters. The planters had a few wildflowers but would mostly grow cheat and brome grasses, mustard and tumbleweeds.
In October 2012 the Wildflower Preservation Foundation helped fund putting sprinklers in the planters. The planters were cleaned out of almost all vegetation and seeds of many different wildflowers including the poppy were planted. Some obstacles:
• Birds, insects, rodents found a new water source.
• They loved the young plants that had the germinated leaves and young true leaves. Both rabbits and squirrels were known to be in the planters.
• Birds would gather a watch while I was spreading seeds and would be in the planters as soon as I left them.
• The planter is built on an incline and winds were a factor in drying the soil.
• In 2013 weather was a problem. In December the temperatures dropped to 10 and 17 degrees and there were 13 nights of freezing.
In January 2014 I had 100 germinated poppy plants (from 2005 collected seeds) in biodegradable pots. Those along with more seeds were put in. This year there was some success with poppies growing.
A large thank you to Carrie Bemis, Envirnmental Scientist and the maintenance people who worked to make this possible.
There was concerned about the Burrowing Owls this year as it has been so dry. The vegetation was sparse and dry. There were few insects which is a staple in their diet along with rodents.
The little bit of rain came in November and did start germination but most of the plants died.
A little more rain came in February with more germination and between the two rains the habitat area had a nice showing of poppies along with a few other wildflowers and grasses, mustard and tumbleweeds.
There are signs that the Burrowing Owls are still present at the Reserve. On my last visit I found droppings at several of the habitat entrances and some small feathers. When I approached Habitat #4 one of the owls flew away from the area and headed west. It was chattering at me as it flew by and when it landed it
bobbed it’s head- this is a gesture that I was not wanted in the area!