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Desert Wild Flower Reports ¦ Birds ¦ Mammals ¦ Cacti ¦ Shrubs and Trees

Casa Grande Mountains


Just to the west of the I-8 / I-10 junction is small but prominent set of mountains. From the highway these mountains appear baren yet a hike to the summit is rewarded with a wonderful garden of succulent cacti. There are fine views of the highways and railroads below. Exit I-10 at Sun Land Gin Rd. (#200), go south just one block and turn west (right) on Arica Rd. for two miles. There turn north (right) and follow Lamb Road as it passes through some rather unsightly housing areas and failed developments before ending in the foothills.

The land is apparently part of Casa Grande Mountain Park but there is little obvious development or signage. Several jeep roads lace the foothills and there are quite a number of tracks blazed by off-road vehicles. It would seem that the City of Casa Grande has neglected the recreational opportunities that this summit and natural area represent.

View Casa Grande Mountains in a larger map. Starting point for hiking/walking tour is located by green balloon. Exit at #200 from I-10. Picacho Peak (in larger view map) noted by green tent has camping and picnicking available.
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In general order of Abundance.
Seasonal occurence: (S)ummer, (F)all, (W)inter, (Sp)ring

  1. House Finch -- S,F,W,Sp
  2. Black-throated Sparrow -- S,F,W,Sp
  3. Cactus Wren -- S,F,W,Sp
  4. Red-tailed Hawk -- F,W
  5. Mourning Dove -- S,F,W,Sp
  6. Bendire's Thrasher -- S,F,W,Sp
  7. Rock Wren -- S,F,W,Sp
  8. Gila Woodpecker -- S,F,W,Sp
  9. Gilded Flicker -- S,F,W,Sp
  10. Canyon Wren -- W,Sp
House Finch pair, photo © Robert Shantz

This House Finch pair was photographed by Robert Shantz in Clifton, Arizona. The female is on the left, and the male on the right.


After one visit on Feburary 23, 2003 I have spotted only two mammal species, both squirrels.

  1. Round-tailed Ground Squirrel -- seen along road
  2. Harris Ground Squirrel --


In general order of abundance:
  1. Teddy Bear Cholla (Opuntia bigelovii) -- abundant over much of the mountain. Some have very short spines and might be confused with the O. fulgida but lack the chain fruits.
  2. Fishhook Pincushion (Mammalaria grahamii)
  3. Saguaro Cactus (Cereus giganteus) -- Superb forests of good-sized saguaros
  4. Buckhorn Cholla (Opuntia acanthocarpa) --
  5. Compass Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus acanthodes) -- Spines tinged with red and yellow.
  6. Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii) --
  7. Chain-fruit Cholla (Opuntia fulgida) --
  8. Desert Christmas Cactus (Opuntia leptocaulis) --

The brilliant hues of blooming hedgehogs are sure to catch your attention. Blooming mostly in April at this location.

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Shrubs and Trees

Mostly in order of Abundance:

  1. Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata)
  2. Trangle-leaf Bursage (Ambrosia deltoidea) --
  3. Foothills Palo Verde (Cercidium microphyllum) -
  4. Ironwood (Olneya tesota) - A few along drainages
  5. Wofberry (Lycium sp.) - a few here and there.
  6. Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) -
  7. Desert Broom (Baccharis sarothroides) - mostly along road sides


Triangle-leaf Bursage

Triangle-leaf Bursage

Desert Ironwood

Desert Ironwood

Foothills Palo Verde; Yellow Palo Verde

Foothills Palo Verde


Early Spring Wildflowers February-March (obs. 2003)

White Flowers

  1. Guadalupe Cryptantha -- Cryptantha maritima
  2. Peppergrass -- Lepidium lasiocarpum
  3. Arch-nutted Comb Bur -- Pectocarya recurvata
  4. Lacepod -- Thysanocarpus curvipes
  5. Lance-leaf Ditaxis -- Argythamnia lanceolata

Green Flowers

  1. Triangle-leaf Bursage -- Ambrosia deltoidea
  2. Indianwheat; Woolly Plantain -- Plantago ovata
  3. Desert Mistletoe -- Phoradendron californicum

Yellow Flowers

  1. Brittlebush -- Encelia farinosa
  2. London Rocket -- Sisymbrium irio
  3. California Sundrop -- Camissonia californica
  4. Creosote Bush -- Larrea tridentata

Orange Flowers

  1. Orange Fiddleneck -- Amsinckia intermedia

Purple Flowers

  1. Fillaree
  2. Fremont Thorn Bush -- Lycium fremontii

Blue Flowers

  1. Notch-leaved Phacelia -- Phacelia crenulata
  2. Lupine -- Lupinus sparsiflorus

Red Flowers

  1. Ocotillo;Coachwhip -- Fouquieria splendens

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