Saturday, February 23, 2008

Spring Wildflowers in California

Here are some field trip ideas, with links to sites where you can check for updates on wildflower timing and intensity this year:

Joshua Tree National Park:
"Wildflower season usually begins with the large, cream-colored blooms of the Joshua trees in late February, followed by colorful annuals at the lower elevations around the south boundary of the park. Sometime in March, the bloom will follow rising temperatures into the higher elevations of the park. Cacti usually wait until April or May to produce their bright, waxy flowers."

Mojave Desert National Preserve:
"In general, spring flowering begins as temperatures rise -- first at lower elevations in February and later at higher elevations in March and April. On mountain tops above 5,000 feet blooms are as late as June. Some believe that spectacular desert blooms occur on an average about once every twenty years and others say that an ideal year comes once every three or four decades."

Added attraction:
"At about 600 feet in height, Kelso Dunes in Mojave National Preserve are the third tallest in North America. "

Daffodill Hill, Amador County:
"Each spring, from mid-March through mid-April, Daffodil Hill explodes with thousands of blooms, attracting visitors from around the world. It is estimated that today, Daffodil Hill is carpeted with over 300,000 bulbs. Daffodil Hill is in a beautiful alpine setting at an elevation of over 3,000 feet. With pine trees, an old barn, wagon wheels, and rusting mining equipment and farming tools, it appeals to anyone with a love of nature. Flowers are everywhere, with pea-fowl, chickens, pigeons and lambs making themselves at home."

Anza Borrego Desert State Park, San Diego County:
"Park botanists estimate the peak of the bloom this year will be the first two weeks of March"

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve:
This State Reserve, nestled in the Antelope Buttes 15 miles west of Lancaster, California, is located on California's most consistent poppy-bearing land. Other wildflowers: owl's clover, lupine, goldfield, cream cups, and coreopsis, to name a few, share the desert grassland to produce a mosaic of color and fragrance each spring. As unpredictable as nature - the intensity and duration of the wildflower bloom varies yearly.

Death Valley National Park:
"The peak bloom is variable depending on temperatures and rainfall, but can be expected around mid to late March."

A good general site to check is:
Desert USA's Desert Wildflower Watch