Annual bloom of endangered Pecos sunflowers in Santa Rosa is happening now

The annual bloom of endangered Pecos sunflowers in a nature preserve just off old Route 66 in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, is occurring now and should continue for the next 10 days or so.

The sunflowers congregate along desert wetlands. The ones in Santa Rosa are fed by the overflow waters of the nearby Blue Hole tourist attraction. The wildflower has become scarce because of the loss of those wetlands over the years. Only seven populations are known to exist.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service undertook a recovery plan for the Santa Rosa stand of flowers about 15 years ago. A monitoring report from a few years ago indicates those efforts were largely successful in increasing the numbers of plants within the Blue Hole Cienega Nature Preserve.

New Mexico Magazine recently published a feature article about the Pecos sunflowers and the Santa Rosa nature preserve:

Pecos sunflowers, listed as federally threatened in 1999, are not the only rare or endangered species in this unique ecosystem. Two other state endangered plants live on Blue Hole Ciénega: Wright’s marsh thistle and Great Plains lady’s tresses orchids. There are also non-plant species in the wetland: an as-yet-unnamed fairy shrimp and a roundnose minnow. According to University of New Mexico scientist Steve Platania, this pinkie-size fish has been recognized as genetically distinct from all other known species of roundnose minnows. […]
“This sunflower is very special among rare plants in New Mexico because it’s a very charismatic plant,” Roth says. “It’s only around for a short period of time, but it generates automatic happiness for me with its cheerfulness and abundance. To me, the sunflower here is the spirit of this place—it’s the spirit of the ciénega.”

On a recent trip to Santa Rosa, we recently found a bunch of Pecos sunflowers growing along the side of Reilly Road, near the intersection of Blue Hole Road (aka old Route 66).

Bigger stands of the sunflowers sit less than a quarter-mile behind a gate on Reilly Road that’s labeled “Blue Hole Cienega Nature Preserve.” No camping or fishing is allowed in the preserve. Several homeowners live nearby and keep an eye on it.

Officials are eyeing ideas to boost local tourism numbers, including a festival that would coincide with the annual bloom in September. Also being considered by city and preserve officials is a specially built boardwalk that would allow people to get close to the flowers but prevent them from being stepped on.

(Image of a Pecos sunflower by the author)

4 thoughts on “Annual bloom of endangered Pecos sunflowers in Santa Rosa is happening now

  1. Really enjoy reading your articles
    I never gave thought to Sunflowers being stamped out ,esp . a rare typeof one

  2. Although I truly enjoy reading about things along Route 66, I strongly object to the fact that you allow your page and website to be full of propaganda. Are you aware of the propaganda that is being perpetuated on your site?

  3. I have never seen “propaganda” on this site! Perhaps your browser has been hijacked by some sort of malware that is serving undesirable content only to you? However, if you’re referring to conversations between readers in the comments section, that is not content provided by the site, nor in my opinion, should it be the site owner’s responsibility to police or censor those comments beyond what the software already filters. Personally, I enjoy most of those discussions and it’s easy enough to ignore those I don’t.

    Ron provides one of my favorite newsletters/websites. I hope you get it figured out so it can be yours as well!

    Ron, if no one has told you lately, thank you! Keep up the great work

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