Wildflowers in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, USA

Desert Wildflower Reports - 2013

Oct. 12th, 2013. Summer monsoon rains were generous in many places across the deserts and high country of Arizona and New Mexico. The result is that there is now a profusion of fall wild flowers particularily along roadsides in the higher elevations north and east of Phoenix and Tucson. A drive out Apache Trail was very colorful with bright lichens adding to the show of color.

Golden Eye
Oct. 13, 2013. Yellow-rayed sunflowers that look like brittle bush but shrub has sandy-textured leaves. More info
Wright's Buckwheat
Oct. 13, 2013, Clusters of small pinkish-white flowers on soft stemmed low shrub. More info
Sweet Bush
 © by Mike Plagens
Oct. 13, 2013. Look for the Butterflies! Small yellow heads on intricately branched shrub about a meter tall and wide. More info
Broom Snakeweed
Broom Snakeweed
Oct 13, 2013, Half-meter tall shrubs covered with hundreds of small, bright yellow heads. More info
Oct. 13, 2013, White 5-petaled flowers with large yellow stamens on mostly herbaceous plant. Berries black when ripe More info

May 25th, 2013. The ephemeral spring annuals at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument have long since whithered to brown, crispy wisps. But the dominant cacti and many of the shrubs are still blooming now. Temperatures exceed 35° every day, but evenings and mornings are very pleasant. Besides those shown just below, Desert Ironwood, White-thorn Acacia, Desert Tobacco, Velvet Mesquite, and Skeleton Weed were also flowering nicely.

Desert Agave
Desert Agave
May 25, 2013, O.P,N.M. Bright yellow clusters on 3 m tall stalks arising from rosete of dagger like blue-green leaves. Plant whithers away as fruits mature. More info
Sweet Bush
 © by Mike Plagens
May 25, 2013. Look for the Butterflies! Small yellow heads on intricately branched shrub about a meter tall and wide. More info
Organ Pipe Cactus
Organ Pipe Cactus
May 25, 2013, O.P,N.M. Large white flowers opening at night and visited especially by bats. Followed by spherical, reddish, spiny fruits. More info
Wire Lettuce
May 25, 2013, O.P,N.M. Small lavender flowers - actually five to seven florets in a head. Many straw-like stems that may form a basket shape. More info
Saguaro Cactus
Saguaro Cactus
May 25, 2013, O.P,N.M. Big, fantastic white flowers usually several meters up, put keep looking to find a low swooping branch with open bloom. More info

April 21st, 2013. The desert grassland and piñon-juniper areas north and east of metropolitan Phoenix are still showing a lot of beautiful flowers. Desert Mariposa Lilies were especially glorious along Seven Springs Road north of Carefree. Many other species are in full bloom, but temperatures in excess of 30°C mean they will soon be going to seed.

Desert Mariposa Lily
Desert Mariposa Lily
April 21, 2013 north of Carefree along Seven Spring Road. Large brilliant yellow or orange blooms rising just above the short grass and rocky substrate. More info
Banana Yucca
 © by Mike Plagens
April 21, 2013. Robust succulent with dagger-like leaves and clusters of big, pendulous, white flowers. More info
Plains Blackfoot Daisey
April 21, 2013 n. of Carefree. Half-meter diameter bunches of white daisies fading maroon. More info
Desert Penstemon
April 21, 2013 n. of Carefree. Wands of pink, tubular flowers. Leaves are opposite on the stem and joined around the stem. More info
California Goldfields
 © by Mike Plagens
April 21, 2013 n. of Carefree. Diminutive daisies with yellow rays and centers, barely a few inches tall. Herbaceous. More info

The Sonoran Desert is home to many species of beautiful wildflowers. If you lack the ability to view these flowers in their native location, consider online flower delivery to bring the beauty of nature to you.

March 21st, 2013. An abundance of wildflowers were observed and identified by members of the Arizona Native Plant Society field trip northeast of Mesa, Arizona. Among the many species seen in bloom include: Chuparosa (Justicia californica), Hairy Bowlesia (Bowlesia incana), Triangle-leaf Bursage (Ambrosia deltoidea), Mojave Desert Star (Monoptilon bellioides), Desert Chicory (Rafinesquia neomexicana), San Felipe Marigold (Adenophyllum porophylloides), Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata), Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) California Goldfields (Lasthenia californica), Orange Fiddleneck (Amsinckia intermedia), Wingnut Cryptantha (Cryptantha pterocarya), Comb Bur (Pectocarya platycarpa), Asian Mustard;Sahara Mustard (Brassica tournefortii) California Mustard (Guillenia lasiophylla), Peppergrass (Lepidium lasiocarpum), London Rocket (Sisymbrium irio), Lacepod (Thysanocarpus curvipes), Bigroot (Marah gilensis), Small-seed Sandmat (Chamaesyce polycarpa) Red-stemmed Fillaree (Erodium cicutarium), Eucrypta (Eucrypta micrantha), Notch-leaved Phacelia (Phacelia crenulata), Blue Fiesta Flower (Pholistoma auritum), Chia (Salvia columbariae), Blazingstar -- Mentzelia, Desert Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcia ambigua),. Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla), Pale Evening Primrose (Camissonia pallida), California Sundrop (Camissonia californica), California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), Seaside Deervetch (Lotus salsuginosus), Lupine (Lupinus sparsiflorus), Woolly Plantain (Plantago patagonica), Red Brome Grass (Bromus rubens), Yellowthroat Gilia (Gilia flavocincta), Miner's Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata), Desert Windflower (Anemone tuberosa), Shrubby Bedstraw (Galium stellatum), Thornbush;Wolfberry (Lycium spp), and Pellitory (Perietaria pennsylvanica).
With very warm, dry conditions the show won't last long!

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March 12th, 2013. Rains in December were a hopeful sign that Spring 2013 would be good for wildflowers. Most of January was quite dry, there was a hard freeze, and prospects for a showy spring were dim. From Friday January 25th thru Monday the 28th rainfall arrived across much of the Sonoran Desert. Since January only a few light rain showers have kept the annuals small and widely spaced. There are no fabulous shows, but by searching many of the desert beauties can be found.

On March 8th and 9th a late winter storm brought significant rain to parts of the Sonoran Desert, particularly north and east of Phoenix and Tucson. The annuals are revived and the perennial shrubs and cacti will bloom nicely through May. In the weeks after the rain record high temperatures above 30°C will propel growth as well as drying. Along the Bartlet Dam Road north of Scottsdale there are slopes covered with bright California Poppies:

California Poppy
California Poppy
March 14, 2013 east of Carefree. Broad swaths of poppies on rocky slopes. More info
Perennial Rock Cress
 © by Mike Plagens
March 14, 2013 east of Carefree. Perennial mustard grows straight out of rock crevices. More info
Holly-leaf Barberry
March 14, 2013 east of Carefree. Woody shrub with bright yellow, incredibly sweet flowers. Also called Red-berry Barberry. More info
Wingnut Popcorn Flower
March 14, 2013 east of Carefree. Abundant small white flowers on low herb with rather bristly folliage. More info
Curly Dock
March 14, 2013 east of Carefree. Large, slightly rubbery leaves. Spikes of flowers with green-red bracts. More info

Blue Fiesta Flower
February 28, 2013 at Thunderbird Park, Glendale, AZ. Delicate blue flowers on scrambling vine-like herb. More info
Small-Flowered Hideseed
 © by Mike Plagens
February 28, 2013. Even smaller, minute pale blue flowers with four petals and soft, pinnately cleft leaves. More info
London Rocket
February 28, 2013. Abundant weed in the city and sometimes in desert along washes. Small yellow flowers. More info
Yellow Bladderpod
Feb. 28, 2013. Bright yellow, four-petalled flowers on low herb. Fruit forms spherical pods. More info
Woolly Plantain
February 28, 2013 at Thunderbird Pk, AZ. Small greenish white flowers with browning bracts. Diminutive. More info

Sand Verbena
February 18, 2013 at Ehrenberg, AZ. Hemispheres of bright pink flowers forming carpets on sand dunes. More info
Mexican Poppy
California Poppy
February 18, 2013 at Ehrenberg, AZ. Large orange-yellow petals on plants growing close to ground. More info
February 18, 2013 at Ehrenberg, AZ. Abundant yellow flowers on meter-tall shrubs at roadsides and on hillsides. More info
Arizona Lupine
Arizona Lupine
February 18, 2013 at Ehrenberg, AZ. Lavender-blue pea-flowers on plants mostly a roadside. More info
February 18, 2013 at Ehrenberg, AZ. Technically a wildflower but with no obvious petals or colors. Diminutive. More info
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