22 Jan 2016 Desert Wildflower Update 1
It may be a few months early, but wildflower season has begun!
There is little more exciting to desert lovers than the beginnings of wildflower season. The classic desert “green fuzz” of small grasses yields to the denser green mats of basal rosettes which eventually burst forth with color. Hillsides that may have appeared sparsely vegetated with creosote or bursage or simply rocks all of a sudden seem to be filled with greenery and life. The desert is transformed into something new and remarkable… if for only a few weeks.
Our record October rains – some locales received their entire annual rainfall or more – have brought us one of the earliest blooms in memory, with flowers beginning to come up as early as New Year’s Day. Now, all signs indicate that we are heading toward a truly remarkable wildflower season – more than twenty species are already visible throughout our region, and the ground remains covered in rosettes indicating further bloom activity coming soon.
Ashford Mill, in southern Death Valley, is always a reliable spot for good wildflower viewing, and as per usual appears to be the epicenter of the current bloom activity, with slopes and hills absolutely bursting with desert gold, sand verbena, and brown eyed primrose.
But those willing to eschew the windshield and take off on foot have far more delights waiting in store. South-facing aspects of the Black Mountains, Ibex Hills, Dublin Hills, and other relatively low mountain ranges in our area will shelter the beginnings of a huge diversity of flowers. Several species of phacelia, several types of primrose, and even our iconic desert five-spot are all coming up, particularly in canyons which receive lots of sun and are sheltered from the wind.
Only fools would try to predict the exact quantity or duration of a wildflower bloom, so we’ll refrain from saying just how big this bloom will be or just how long it will last. But what we can say, unequivocally, is that right now is a remarkable time to visit the Amargosa. This early bloom may not stick around forever, so come on out, join one of our wildflower tours, and experience one of nature’s most remarkable sights!