The principal reason that Reach 11 exists is for flood control. Water flowing down from Cave Creek and some smaller drainages is captured behind an earthen dam that parallels the north side of the Central Arizona Project Canal for some 11 km (7 miles). This dam keeps flood waters out of the canal and out of housing developments to the south. A kilometer-wide strip of floodable desert running the length of this dam is called Reach 11 - a Phoenix Parks and Recreation Area. Numerous hiking, biking and equestrian trails crisscross this area.
Silt and sand carried down by the force of flood waters has already accumulated behind the dam and in some spots there is a significant accumulation of ground water that supports mesquite bosques and even a few cottonwood trees. Blue Palo Verde, Desert Hackberry, Gray Thorn, Ironwood and Salt Bush species have grown very well in this habitat often produce abundant crops of seed. Birds and mammals are likewise abundant making this area attractive to both wildlife and wildlife watchers. Wintering sparrows can be quite abundant and there are many coyotes. After heavy rain there are ponds that can take weeks or months to dry up.
Eventually this area will become less favorable for more and more plants as the evaporating water leaves salts ... salt tolerant plants will predominate. Already there are crusts of white salt in the lowest lying areas.
Trails are level and easy to follow through stands of mesquite and blue palo verde.
Adapted from Phoenix Parks & Rec. Map.
Numerous birds were feasting on the bumper crop of bright orange fruit of the Desert Hackberry (Celtis ehrenbergiana) ... dark green leaves and exceptionally large plants give evidence of the nutrient-rich run-off that floods this area after storms. I found some hackberry trees with more than a dozen Northern Mockingbirds in them. Also present and eating berries were White-crowned Sparrows, Phainopepla, Gila Woodpeckers, House Finches and Curve-billed Thrashers.
Alkali Goldenbush (Isocoma acradenia) was also blooming brightly.
Additional observations submitted by Mel Herring. Common species listed first:
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos). Photo by Mike Plagens.
Great-horned Owl will surely see and hear you from her secluded perch.
In order of Abundance:
Cacti are decidely uncommon at Reach 11 because they can withstand only brief
periods of innundation. In addition the fine clay and silt soils do not drain
well after rainfall leaving the root systems vulnerable to rots.
In general order of Abundance:
Tamarisk is an exotic invasive that can become abundant to the point of excluding native trees and shrubs. Sometimes known as 'salt cedar' because of the scale-like leaves; the presence of flowers means for sure it is not a conifer!
An abundance of desert hackberries at Reach 11 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Month Name Only : no flowers. no live plants.
: usually no or very few blooms open
: a few scattered blooms likely to be seen
: quite a few blooms likely to be seen, depending on past rainfall
: abundant blooms dependent on favorable rainfall
|Common Name||Scientific name||Color||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec|
|Orange Fiddleneck||Amsinckia intermedia||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov|
|Arch-nutted Comb Bur||Pectocarya recurvata||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct|
|Triangle-leaf Bursage||Ambrosia deltoidea|
|Torrey Eucrypta||Eucrypta chrysanthemifolia||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov|
|London Rocket (weed)||Sisymbrium irio||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov|
|Meditteranean Grass||Schismus barbatus||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec|
|Brittle Bush||Encelia farinosa|
|Desert Mistletoe||Phoradendron californicum|
|Creosote Bush||Larrea tridentata|
|Wooly Tidestroma||Tidestroma lanuginosa||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Dec|
|Unicorn Plant||Proboscidea parviflora||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Dec|
|Desert Broom||Baccharis sarothroides|
|Alkali Goldenbush||Isocoma acrademia|
|^ Common Name||^ Scientific name||Flower||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec|
Desert Field Guide
Sonoran Desert Places
Sonoran Desert Naturalist Home Page