Today, I looked for wildflowers along the lower part of the Catalina Highway in the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson. Many early spring wildflowers are setting seed and drying up now in mid-April, but there are still a few lingering lupines and some fleabane daisies remaining along the lower parts of the highway.
When I reached the Molino Canyon Vista Overlook, I discovered that the penstemons there were still in full bloom and some new plants are now flowering, such as Pineneedle Milkweed (Asclepias linaria) and Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa).
Next, I drove along Prison Camp Road in the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site to see what it looks like now after the Aspen Fire of 2003. Wow. The formerly charred hillsides along the road are now dotted with clumps of large-bladed grass and numerous pink-flowered Parry's Beardtongues (Penstemon parryi) and other large, perennial wildflowers.
I have never seen more penstemons! I took the above photo along Prison Camp Road. The remains of a wretched, fire-blackened tree can be seen amidst the fresh, green grass and wildflowers.