Wildflowers in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, USA

Desert Wildflower Reports

May 9th, 2016: This spring has seen below average rainfall, but higher elevation areas north and east of Phoenix got a bit more and many plants can be found blooming. We drove out Seven Springs Rd. on an absolutely beautiful Monday morning.

Mexican Elder
Buckhorn Cholla
May 9, 2016. Seven Springs, Maricopa Co., Arizona. Numerous creamy white flowers in flat clusters on large shrubs or even a tree. More info
California Poppy
California Poppy
May 9, 2016. Seven Springs, Maricopa Co., Arizona. Some very nice clusters of orange poppies found at this late date. More info
Desert Beard Tongue
penstemon
May 9, 2016. Seven Springs, Maricopa Co., Arizona. Several tall stems with magenta Penstemon flowers. More info.
Seaside Petunia
Seaside Petunia
May 9, 2016. Seven Springs. These small petunia flowers would never sell at the garden shop cuz you gotta lie down on the ground to see them properly. More info.
Saguaro Cactus
Saguaro Cactus
May 9, 2016. Seven Springs, Maricopa Co., Arizona. Use your binoculars to get a good look at these flowers. More info
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Apr. 3rd, 2016: Still no rain. At McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, a score of blooming plants could be found: Desert Marigold, Creosote Bush, Odora, Banana Yucca, Hedgehog Cactus, Goldeneye, Sweetbush, Desert Senna, Wire Lettuce, Bigelow Four O'Clock, Ocotillo, New Mexico Thistle, Paper Flower, Purple Three-awn, Brown Foot, Desert Holly, Fairy Duster, Woolly Desert Star, Prickly Pear, Mesquite, Sand-wash Groundsel, and Skeleton Weed.

Mar. 26th, 2016: The dry spell has continued for two-and-a-half months and so most of the annals have dried to crispy brown. At Phoenix Mountains Preserve cacti are the showiest blooms, but surprisingly I found a lone poppy!

Buckhorn Chollar
Buckhorn Cholla
March 26, 2016. Phoenix Mountains, Arizona. Flowers come in orange, yellow, red or green. Branched cactus 1 to 3m tall.More info
California Poppy
California Poppy
March 26, 2016. Phoenix Mountains, Arizona. A single plant with a single flower was found today. More info
Creosote Bush
Creosote
March 26, 2016. Phoenix Mountains, Arizona. Still a lot of yellow everywhere, but clearly the flowers left are drying. More info.
Compass Barrel
Compass Barrel
March 26, 2016. Phoenix Mountains, Arizona. A barrel full of sharp spines with a crown of bright yellow flowers. More info.
Hedgehog Cactus
Desert Lavender
March 26, 2016. Phoenix Mountains, Arizona. Clusters of six to a dozen or more stems, each topped with oversized flowers. More info

Mar. 11th, 2016: The dry spell continues with only a few isolated places getting some light rain on March the 7th. In the mountains around Ajo, Arizona, the annuals have dried completely and some trees are blooming way early due to the recent hot temperatures.

Little Desert Trumpet
Broomrape with purple flowers
Mar. 11, 2016. Little Ajo Mts., Arizona. A cluster of 12 flowers is only 4 mm across. More info
Ocotillo
Ocotillo
Mar. 11, 2016. Little Ajo Mts., Arizona. Here, all the ocotillo are blooming, but I saw no humming­birds, the presumed pollinator. More info
Parry Dalea
Parry Dalea
Mar. 11, 2016. Little Ajo Mts., Arizona. This small perennial is hard to see, but a beauty up close! More info
Blue Palo Verde
Blue Palo Verde
Mar. 11, 2016. Little Ajo Mts., Arizona. These amazing flowering trees are blooming several weeks earlier than usual. More info
Fairy Duster
Fairy Duster
Mar. 11, 2016. Little Ajo Mts., Arizona. Some years these shrubs are spectacular, but here I found plants with few open flowers. More info
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Feb. 21st, 2016: The Phoenix Chapter of the Arizona Native Plant Society conducted a field trip to Tacna and the Mohawk Dunes in far southwestern Arizona. Without rain since the beginning of January meant that seeing most wildflowers required some extensive searching. In the end we saw some interesting plants including 22 species in bloom.

Burroweed Strangler
Broomrape with purple flowers
Feb. 21, 2016. Tacna, Arizona. These perennial plants survive the desert by remaining underground until blooming. More info
Phacelia
Phacelia
Feb. 21, 2016. Mohawk Mountains, Arizona. Delicate blue-purple flowers in a scorpion-tail inflorescence. More info
Creosote Bush
Creosote
Feb. 21, 2016. Tacna and Mohawk Valley, Arizona. Using water soaked up 2 months ago, now green and flowering profusely. More info
Ajo Lily
Desert Lily
Feb. 21, 2016. Tacna and Mohawk Valley, Arizona. Lots of leaves and buds up but no blooms yet. In a week or two flowers will be open! More info
Desert Lavender
Desert Lavender
Feb. 21, 2016. Mohawk Mountains, Arizona. These large shrubs of canyons and washes were massed with thousands of flowers. More info

Feb. 8th, 2016: Only the most observant hikers in Phoenix Mountain Preserves would notice that the wildflower season has started. The first clue might be so many honeybees crawling on the ground like oversized ants! They're visiting flowers alright, on plants less than a centimeter tall showing flowers even more minute. Everything blooming now is stunted because of the long dry spells between rain events. The last significant rain was back on Jan. 6th, 2016.

Arch-nutted Comb Bur
Arch-nutted Comb Bur
Feb. 7, 2016. Phoenix, Sonoran Preserve. White flowers are smaller than a rice grain on plants the size of a dime. More info
Peppergrass
Peppergrass
Feb. 7, 2016. Phoenix, Sonoran Preserve. Greenish flowers might require a hand lens to be seen. More info
Eucrypta
Eucrypta
Feb. 7, 2016. Phoenix, Sonoran Preserve. Tiny pale blue flowers on frail plants that grow mostly in the shade of boulders or desert trees. More info
Ocotillo
Ocotillo
Feb. 7, 2016. Phoenix, Sonoran Preserve. Most ocotillo wait till April, but one on Apache Wash trail was in bloom. More info
Desert Globe Mallow
Desert Globe Mallow
Feb. 7, 2016. Phoenix, Sonoran Preserve. Bigger, healthier plants grow right next to the road where they get bonus water runoff. More info

Jan 19th, 2016: Lower Colorado River in Western Arizona and Southeastern California. November and early January rains plus the warmer temperatures of these lower elevations have already brought forth some early, beautiful wildflowers. Reported by Steve Ganley.

Desert Sunflower
Desert Sunflower
Jan 19, 2016, Davis Dam, AZ. Two inch plus diameter sunflowers with sandy textured leaves. More info
Lupine
Arizona Lupine
Jan 19, 2016, Davis Dam, AZ. The leaves are palmately compound: arranged like the fingers of a hand. More info
Sand Verbena
Jan 19, 2016, Davis Dam, AZ. Stems trail in deep accumulations of sand. Cluster of pink to lavender flowers. More info
Sun Cup
Sun Cup
Jan 19, 2016, Davis Dam, AZ. Four, large bright yellow petals. More info
Phacelia
Phacelia
Jan 19, 2016, Davis Dam, AZ. Bell-shaped flowers with five lobes and several shades of purple to blue among several types. More info

May 31st, 2015: Catalina State Park. Tucson's urban sprawl has reached right to the park boundary. Within the preserve wildflowers and nature still prevail. Recent, but very atypical rains have kept the park unusually green for the season.

Desert Willow
Desert Willow
May 31, 2015, Catalina Park, AZ. Dark green trees covered with pale pink trumpet flowers. More info
Cane Cholla
Cane Cholla
May 31, 2015, Catalina Park, AZ. Large cholla cactus with rather long straight joints. Often with a single tree-like trunk. More info
Trailing Four O'Clock
Trailing Four O'Clock
May 31, 2015, Catalina Park, AZ. Stems trail along the sandy soil with bright pink flowers at regular intervals. More info
Virgin's Bower
Virgin's Bower
May 31, 2015, Catalina Park, AZ. Satin white flowers on a woody vine. Later, the maturing seeds are even more conspicuous. More info
Woody Crinklemat
Lacy Tansy-Aster
May 31, 2015, Catalina Park, AZ. Miniature woody shrubs with over-sized flowers by comparison. More info

May 24th, 2015: I-17 exit to Bumble Bee. The Crown King Road crosses a dozen kilometers of upland Sonoran Desert with many cacti and desert shrubs. May 2015 has been unusually cool and wet so that the spring flowering season has continued and some summer bloomers have started already.

Catclaw Acacia
Catclaw Acacia
May 24, 2015, Crown King Rd., AZ. Small cream-colored flowers in dense compact spikes. A honeybee favorite. More info
Centaury
Centaury
May 24, 2015, Crown King Rd., AZ. A few plants in the deep sandy washes were revived by unusual May rains. More info
Range Ratany
Range Ratany
May 24, 2015, Crown King Rd., AZ. This woody plant grows stronger by tapping into the root systems of neighboring shrubs. More info
Paper Flower
Paper Flower
May 24, 2015, Crown King Rd., AZ. Many slightly woody stems about 80cm tall all with bright yellow flowers. More info
Tamarisk
Tamarisk
May 24, 2015, Crown King Rd., AZ. Also called Salt Cedar. True cedars don't get flowers at all. This is an exotic invasive plant. More info

April 19th, 2015: North of Glendale and Peoria, Arizona, along Carefree Highway and up Lake Pleasant Road and out Castle Hot Springs Road the annuals have all dried and gone to seed. But the trees, shrubs and succulent cacti are blooming full bore.

Foothills Palo Verde
Foothills Palo Verde
April 19, 2015, Castle Hot Sprgs. Rd., AZ. In any given area this paler yellow palo verde blooms about 2 weeks later than the blue palo verde. More info
Desert Ironwood
Desert Ironwood
April 19, 2015, Castle Hot Sprgs. Rd., AZ. Blooming a week or two earlier perhaps because we've had an exceptionally warm late winter to spring. More info
Engelmann Prickly-Pear
Engelmann Prickly-Pear
April 19, 2015, Castle Hot Sprgs. Rd., AZ. Big, saucer sized flowers with numerous tepals (petals and sepals). Numerous on old cattle pastures. More info
Velvet Mesquite
Velvet Mesquite
April 19, 2015, Castle Hot Sprgs. Rd., AZ. Lots of tassled flowers but they are a few weeks old and there's almost no nectar left for the bees. More info
Lacey Tansy-Aster
Lacy Tansy-Aster
April 19, 2015, Castle Hot Sprgs. Rd, AZ. Many stems from a woody crown with pinnately divided leaves. More info

March 29th, 2015: Vekol Valley, Sonoran Desert National Monument, Arizona. Day time temperatures are pushing above 35°C (95°F) most every day recently, drying the ephemeral flowers quickly. Still lots of great things to see.

Desert Evening Primrose
Desert Evening Primrose
March 29, 2015, Vekol Valley, AZ. Big, bright yellow - like a pats of fresh butter dropped in the sandy washes. More info
Lobed Ground Cherry
Lobed Ground Cherry
March 29, 2015, Vekol Valley, AZ. Leaves, fruit and purple flowers hug the ground remaining in the shallow boundary layer. More info
Blue Palo Verde
Blue Palo Verde
March 29, 2015, Vekol Valley, AZ. Truly splendid show with tens of thousands of flowers open in the trees at once. More info
Desert Holly
Desert Holly
March 29, 2015, Vekol Valley, AZ. Holly-like leaves and small heads of pinkish flowers. Growing in shade of wash bank trees. More info
Ocotillo
Coachwhip
March 29, 2015, Vekol Valley, AZ. Bright red flowers at the tips of coachwhip branches visited by hummingbirds. More info

March 22nd, 2015: We could easily have listed a hundred species of blooming plants along the Seven Springs Road north of Carefree, Arizona.

Violet Snapdragon
Violet Snapdragon
March 22, 2015, Seven Spring Rd., Carefree, AZ. Rather small plant with sticky leaves and small, beautiful flowers. More info
Tufted Evening Primrose
Tufted Evening Primrose
March 22, 2015, Seven Spring Rd., Carefree, AZ. Very large, white flowers with four petals. They close up and turn pink by afternoon. More info
Whispering Bells
Whispering Bells
March 22, 2015, Seven Spring Rd., Carefree, AZ. Pale yellow, bell-shaped plants stay on the plant after they wither and a jostled in the wind making soft sounds. More info
Chia
Chia
March 22, 2015, Seven Spring Rd., Carefree, AZ. Small purple flowers in round clusters that appear stacked up on the stem. More info
Sugar Berry
Sugar Sumac
March 22, 2015, Seven Spring Rd., Carefree, AZ. Evergreen trees with glossy, leathery leaves. Flowers cream-color and accented by red stems. More info

March 8th, 2015: Many wild flowers were found blooming along the Bartlett Dam Road northeast of Carefree, Arizona.

California Poppy
California Poppy
March 8, 2015, Bartlet Dam Road, Carefree, AZ. Spectacular annuals with 5 petals often in large patches on gentle slopes. More info
Canaigre
Wild Rhubarb
March 8, 2015, Bartlet Dam Road, Carefree, AZ. Large leaves set at ground level. Tall reddish spikes of seeds. More info
Snapdragon Bush
Bush Penstemon
March 8, 2015, Bartlet Dam Road, Carefree, AZ. Yellow snapdragons on an intricately branched, leafy bush. More info
Bigroot
Bigroot
March 8, 2015, Bartlet Dam Road, Carefree, AZ. Small flowers on leafy vines followed by prickly, spherical cucumbers. More info
Desert Windflower
Desert Windflower
March 8, 2015, Bartlet Dam Road, Carefree, AZ. Low-growing perennials with finely divided leaves and up to ten tepals. More info

March 5th, 2015: Over a long lunch break I hiked up Shaw Butte in Phoenix, Arizona. Plants are blooming, but mostly perennials and very few annuals. I suspect the long gaps in the rainfall pattern kept annuals from prospering this year.

Compass Barrel
Barrel Cactus
March 5, 2015, Shaw Butte, Phoenix, AZ. Normally blooms April and May, but February was way warmer than usual this year. More info
Fiddleneck
Orange Fiddleneck
March 5, 2015, Shaw Butte, Phoenix, AZ. In wet years grows a meter or more tall. More info
Buffel Grass
Buffle Grass
March 5, 2015, Shaw Butte, Phoenix, AZ. The reddish spikes look pretty, but this exotic is bad for the Sonoran Desert! More info
Creosote Bush
Creosote Bush
March 5, 2015, Shaw Butte, Phoenix, AZ. Woody shrub with shiny, compound leaves and flowers with five petals. More info
Phacelia
Phacelia
March 5, 2015, Shaw Butte, Phoenix, AZ. These annuals are in full bloom, but smaller and fewer than usual. More info

Feb. 15th, 2015. Brittle Bush with its numerous yellow heads is leading the way into spring in the deserts surrounding the Phoenix area. I drove a few miles north of Lake Pleasant on the back road to Crown King and found quite a number of species blooming: Blue Dicks, Triangle-leaf Bursage, Brittlebush, London Rocket, Jojoba, Red-stemmed Fillaree, Comb Bur, Parry Dalea, Desert Windflower, Chia, Lacepod, Seaside Deervetch, Ragged Rock Flower, Paper Flower, Rumex, Fairy Duster, Bigroot, Hairy Bowlesia, and Henbit.

Feb. 1st, 2015. Rackensack Wash: Early spring flowers and 11 butterflies on the wing. The last week of January brought substantial rains to the southern and eastern portions of the Sonoran Desert. The low elevation, western areas of Arizona and southern California remain very dry and likely to have few if any wildflowers showing this spring.

Scrambled Eggs
Scrambled Eggs
Feb. 1, 2015, Rackensack Wash., AZ. Low growing plant with tubular flowers and finely dissected leaves. More info

Fillaree

Red-stemmed Fillaree
Feb. 1, 2015, Rackensack Wash., AZ. Often growing very low to the ground. Spring Azure butterfly. More info
Mock Vervain
Mock Vervain
Feb. 1, 2015, Rackensack Wash., AZ. Clumps of lavender flowers also popular with butterflies. More info
Desert Rock Pea
Desert Rock Pea
Feb. 1, 2015, Rackensack Wash., AZ. Big velvety soft leaves. Five free petals. Schizocarp fruit. More info
Wild Oats
Wild Oats
Feb. 1, 2015, Rackensack Wash., AZ. Tall grass with pendulous spikelets bearing long awns. More info

2014 Wildflower Archive

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2010 Wildflower Archive

Great Wildflower Websites for North America:

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  3. Illinois Wildflowers
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  2. New England
  3. Southwest Colorado
  4. Tucson, Arizona

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