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Wildflower Report

(page last updated - 1/27/11)

Generally, the following may be applied to the entire Mojave Desert region as rains have been sporadic and scattered. This page will be updated as the reports of blossoms come in. Note that the exact formula is not fully understood and there are no guarantees what-so-ever. Please check back often.

Keep your eye out- If you have have taken pictures of wildflowers in the Mojave Desert, let us know and send them along to us at:
Wildflowers @
Please include "Wildflowers" as the message subject, your name, date and location of your sighting.

January 2011 Wildflower Report

Today I saw my first wildflower of the season, an Indian paintbrush at Cougar Buttes in the Lucerne Valley. Little, somewhat scrawny, still beautiful, and sort of coming up in a crack between two rocks, the red-orange blossom was busy making its way to the sun.

According to the weather patterns over the last year, a good year last year, a good rain last fall and a nice hard rain in January this is promising to be a great year for wildflowers. With places like Death Valley Junction recieving snow for the first time in twenty years locals are expecting good things to come this season.

(2010 reports following)

Generally, the following may be applied to the entire Mojave Desert region as rains have been sporadic and scattered. This page will be updated as the reports of blossoms come in. Note that the exact formula is not fully understood and there are no guarantees what-so-ever. Please check back often.

Joshua Tree National Park

    April 7, 2010

    As the weather warms, the main area to view wildflowers in bloom is progressing from the south boundary of the park north. Cottonwood, especially the Mastodon Trail, is showing a lot of color. The Pinto Basin is also a focus for flowers, with a great number of species in bloom at the moment, including the lovely desert lily.

    At higher elevations, the Joshua trees are fading but mohave mound and prickly pear cactus are beginning to bloom as well as desert dandelion, checker fiddleneck, and golden poppy.

    April 4, 2010

    Not much change from below with the exception of an abundance of desert dandelions along the roadside from the Utah Rd entrance north, out of the park and into Twentynine Palms,

    March 28, 2010

    At last it is beginning to look like wildflower season. Cottonwood Road from the south boundary of the park to Cottonwood Pass is lined with the lovely, yellow blooms of desert dandelion, along with lots of chia and some Mojave Lupine.

    North of the Bajada, you can see sundrop, purple mat, Fagonia, and wild heliotrope. Several Mojave yucca are in bud and even blooming in Cottonwood Campground and at Woods Spring.

    At higher elevations, the Joshua trees continue to flower.

    (March 17, 2010)

    A profusion of Joshua trees have come into full bloom in the northern, higher elevation areas, of the park.

    Although spring wildflower season continues its slow pace in Joshua Tree National Park, more species in flower are being observed. Though it is important to note that these are often isolated blooms so visitors are unlikely to see many. The Lower Chilcoot Pass area of Cottonwood Wash, and the Bajada are the best places to see several species together.

    The number of Joshua trees beginning to bloom has increased in the higher elevations of Queen Valley and in Black Rock Canyon.

    March 1, 2010

    Spring wildflower season continues its slow pace in Joshua Tree National Park. Flowering plants are few and scattered in the south of the park. Somewhat warmer temperatures during the last two weeks have produced lots of green leaves but it will take another couple of weeks for them to grow stalks, bud, and bloom.

    A number of Joshua trees are beginning to bloom in the higher elevations. Bladderpod, which can be seen growing along the road from the North Entrance to Cottonwood, chuperosa along the road near Cottonwood, and ocotillo in Pinto Basin continue to provide the main color.

    Naturalist Bill Truesdell advises that the best way to see flowers this time of year is to stop when you see one, get out of your car, and walk around. That way you are likely to find others.

    February 16, 2010

    Bladderpod and Chuparosa welling up in the warmer, lower elevations (Pinto Basin) of the park. Bladderpod and Senna are good many years and add nice yellow color to to this already beautiful desert landscape.
Joshua Tree NP 7-Day Weather Forecast

Death Valley National Park

    April 4, 2010

    Desert Gold (Geraea canescens) is now putting on a colorful show in the low elevations of Death Valley. Scattered patches along the Badwater Road are getting thicker every day, but they are near peak bloom in the southern area from Ashford Mill to just above the Harry Wade Road junction. This was the same area that put on the most spectacular display in 2005, so the seed bank is particularly rich there. Also watch for the pink and white Sand Verbena (Abronia villosa) thickly lining the roadways in the same area. You may want to circle back to Furnace Creek via West Side Road for more fields of flowers on the alluvial fans from the Panamint Mountains.

    Other abundant bloomers to watch for now include Brown-eyed Evening Primrose (Camissonia claviformis), Golden Evening Primrose (Camissonia brevipes) Notch-leaf Phacelia (Phacelia crenulata), Caltha-leaf Phacelia (Phacelia calthifolia), and Purple Mat (Nama demissum.)

    Many of the flowers that sprouted from the most recent significant rainstorm at the end of February have bolted in a desperate attempt to produce seed before they totally dry out. They are only an inch or so tall, have minimal leaves and a single flower. Drying winds, temperatures in the low 90s, and lack of recent rain are pushing the bloom toward a quick end in the lower elevations. Fortunately, the plants that sprouted due to earlier rains have well established root systems that are able to tap into deeply soaked moisture, so are able to grow and bloom for a longer period. Likewise, plants in the washes and canyons, mid-elevation valleys and lower mountain slopes may still produce an interesting display of color.

    Wildflower Update – March 25, 2010

    The wildflower bloom has begun! Nice flower displays are starting to show along the alluvial fans and roadsides in the low elevations of central Death Valley. The bloom is still building and peak should still be another couple of weeks away.

    The most abundant flower so far is the Brown-eyed Evening Primrose (Camissonia claviformis) which is producing crowded patches of creamy white. Timing is everything when enjoying these flowers as they open around sunset, bloom all night, then fade to withered pink and drop petals by mid-morning. The lovely “gardens” you enjoyed at sunrise will be hard to locate at mid-day.

    The Badwater Road is a good place to look for wildflowers now. On the alluvial fans from Furnace Creek to Mormon Point you can find Desert Gold (Geraea canescens), Evening Primrose (Brown-eyed and Golden), Phacelia (Notch-leaf and Caltha-leaf), Lesser Mohavea (Mohavea breviflora), Purple Mat (Nama demissum) and even a few Desert Five-spot (Eremalche rotundifolia.) Further south around Ashford Mill there is a nice show of Sand Verbena (Abronia villosa) and a mix of several other species.

    For those of you interested in something rare—but not exactly showy—try looking in the badlands near Furnace Creek for the endemic Goldcarpet (Gilmania luteola). This low growing plant has tiny yellow flowers and yellow stems. It may not be much to look at, but it only appears in wet years and the only place in the world it grows is the Furnace Creek Badlands.

    (March 11, 2010)

    The first few flowers of the season are starting to open in the southern part of the park, but you have to really search to even notice. It is still far too early to make a special trip out here to see flowers. Wait until early April for the peak bloom. Brown-eyed evening primrose, sand verbena, and gold poppy are putting out their first flowers along the roadside below Jubilee Pass. The thickest areas of green with the largest growing plants are found in the Furnace Creek area and south along the Badwater Road to Mormon Point, although only buds are visible so far.

    Lake Manly is so shallow it is being pushed around by the wind, so the edge of the standing water may be far from the road. The Amargosa River has slowed to a trickle and the lake is quickly evaporating.

      Rainfall Totals 2010
      Furnace Creek: 3.11 inches
      Scotty’s Castle: 4.32 inches

      Rainfall Totals 7/1/2009 to Present
      Furnace Creek: 3.2 inches
      Scotty’s Castle: 5.48 inches
Death Valley 7-Day Weather Forecast

Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve

    Poppies Update

    April 14, 2010

    Probably right at the peak right now. Coverage fair to good with the best trail being that up to Kitanemuk View. South trail from the east has the most poppies, large and right next to the trail. Goode Hill looks good, but please STAY ON THE TRAILS, and warn others to also. Lots of spots being destroyed by those who don't know or care about them.

    March 28, 2010

    Poppy Reserve Research Field Notes and Observations

    Michael Powell

    Substantial changes have occurred during the last week since the previous report. The poppies are starting to bloom in greater numbers and in more areas. They’re still mostly ones and twos with a few clusters of more blossoms but not nearly enough to create a sense of general color. With larger plants now, we are now finding poppy plants almost everywhere but still in greater density in some areas. We learned last year that high plant density is not necessary for good color displays. As long as the plants are large enough and wide spread, the eye sees color everywhere and that could hold for this year again.

    The majority of the poppy plants are still small in the pre-budding stage. If the weather cooperates, this should lead to a slower developing season with a later, longer lasting peak color period. The spectacular grape soda lupine plants are finally starting to really bloom and their displays should only get better. The smaller, less showy, pygmy-leaved lupine is also now starting to bloom. With the large number of plants this year, they should give an impressive background to the poppies and goldfields. There are now a few goldfield blossoms and, with many plants having buds, their carpet displays should really explode in the next week or two.

    There are more red maids now blooming but they are generally thinly scattered except the South Poppy Loop trail has some nice clusters of these small, velvety red blossoms; worth looking for. The night opening evening snow, with their brilliant white blossoms can now be found on both the North Poppy Loop and Lightning Bolt trails. It is worth staying at the Reserve until late afternoon when these flowers start to open to see these beautiful blossoms.

    There are now more blue dicks blossoms but, because they are typically scattered single blossoms on a long stem, you have to keep a sharp eye for them. If you have really sharp eyes, you can find the tiny (belly flower) blue, star shaped gilia that is starting to bloom. The fringepod, with their clover like blossoms, that was blooming in great numbers last week have largely already gone to fruit so it is very difficult to still find any blossoms. It appears that there are owl’s clover plants in early development so we should be rewarded with their deep magenta blossoms later in the season.

    With the weather forecast predicting warm (but not the season killing hot temperatures the Reserve experienced a few years ago) and mild easterly winds, the next week could be a great time to visit the California Poppy Reserve!

    (March 21, 2010)

    Scattered displays of lacey phacelia near Kitanemuk Point, also grape soda lupine budding up. Plenty of patches of the ever present red filaree and fiddleneck. Scattered patches of poppies in scattered areas of the park. Look for them along the steeper hillsides. Another week or so may produce interesting results.

    (March 16, 2010)

    A few early poppies and forget-me-nots have come up, but nothing more than a modest trace so far.
* The Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve opens March 13, 2010. However than a few scattered single blossoms, there is nothing appreciable for viewing wilflower-wise, but there are nice trails to walk and enjoy the High Desert steppe.

Poppy Reserve 7-Day Weather Forecast

Mojave Desert

    Nothing Yet - March 3, 2010

    A scouting trip through Barstow and points eastward to Baker and the Mojave River proved with little worth mentioning to show. The good news is that desert lily plants are coming up and hopefully will provide some of their usually beautiful blossoms once things get going.

    Rain - February 21, 2010

    A little more rain- Light scattered showers and short outbursts in the upper elevations (3,000 ft). With more of the same forecast through the next week.

    Rain - February 7, 2010

    Rain is good, more rain is better, and we've had more rain throughout the Mojave the last few days. Once the sun hits and things warm up something WILL happen. Hopefully it'll be some color rather than grasses and greenery running rampart.

    Wildflower Forecast - January 25, 2010

    With the recent rains native trees, shrubs and cactus should have a good showing of color. Watch for willows, creosote and all types of cactus to have a good year. As far as blankets of wildflower blossoms the outlook is not so good. However, all things considered, don't give up hope.

Wildflower Blooming Periods

Some years the desert is spectacular with wildflowers, other years the blossoms are sparse. A "good" wildflower year depends on ...

Wildflower Report - 3/28/10

Kitanemuk Point - Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve

About another week and the poppy reserve should be looking great.

Wildflower Report - 2/28/10

Not much of anything at the Poppy Reserve yet, but it sure can be pretty while the rain clouds pass by.

Wildflower Report - 2/21/10
Red stem filaree - Cajon Summit/Oak Hills --

I saw these Filaree growing out of a retaining wall last weekend in Oak Hills, California near the Cajon Pass (3,500' level). - Rick Maschek

Item of Interest - 2/17/10

Lake Manly returns to Badwater Basin in Death Valley

Wildflower Report - 2/11/10
Desert rock pea - Argus Range west of Death Valley --

My first wildflower sighting for this year is the Rock Pea! This year things are off to a late start compared to the last couple years. Hopefully all the rain means that although it's starting late, it'll still wind up being great! We'll see!
reported by -

Wildflower Photo Guide

Mojave Aster - 2010 may not be the best for seeing the carpeted desert we all love to see, but it could be a good year for macro enthusiasts to get a variety of close ups of the ones that do come to flower.
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