Wildflowers in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, USA

Desert Wildflower Reports

Aug. 31st, 2014. Apache Trail northeast of Apache Junction passes between the north side of the Superstition Mountains and the string of man-made lakes and reservoirs on the Salt River. The spectacular geology of rhyolite is also very amenable to blooming shrubs and wildflowers.

Thurber's Cotton
Thurber's Cotton
Aug. 31, 2014, Apache Trail, AZ. Leafy shrubs with large white flowers marked with pink. Small boles with only a few threads of cotton. More info
Sacred Datura
Sacred Datura
Aug. 31, 2014, Apache Trail, AZ. Very large, dark green leaves on robust herbaceous plant. Fruit covered with sharp spines. More info
Colubrina
Colubrina
Aug. 31, 2014, Apache Trail, AZ. The flowers are very small and green. Huge numbers of bees and other insects will draw your attention. More info
Trailing Four O'Clock
Trailing Four O'Clock
Aug. 31, 2014, Apache Trail, AZ. Bright pink flowers on a vine-like plant that runs along the ground. Common across Sonoran Desert. More info
Fountain Grass
Fountain Grass
Aug. 31, 2014, Apache Trail, AZ. An escape from decorative landscapes and now a serious threat to native wildflowers. More info

Aug. 25th, 2014. A week ago wide swaths of the Sonoran Desert were inundated with heavy tropical rains. With hot temperatures the floral response is nearly instantaneous.

Trailing Four O'Clock
Trailing Four O'Clock
Aug. 24, 2014, White Tank Mountains, AZ. Bright pink flowers on a vine-like plant that grows along the ground. More info
Scarlet Spiderling
Scarlet Spiderling
Aug. 24, 2014, White Tank Mountains, AZ. Small magenta flowers on fast-growing, slender stems. Leaves feel sticky. More info
California Caltrop
California Caltrop
Aug. 24, 2014, White Tank Mountains, AZ. The summer annual also grows prostrate along the soil forming an expanding mat of vegetation. More info
Desert Hackberry
Desert Hackberry
Aug. 24, 2014, White Tank Mountains, AZ. Very small green flowers on thorny shrub. New leaves appeared very quickly after the rain. More info
Desert Senna
Desert Senna
Aug. 24, 2014, White Tank Mountains, AZ. Low shrubby plant with clusters of big yellow flowers. Flourishes especially at road sides and in washes. More info

May 10th, 2014. With a high temperature expected above 35° myDesert Hackberry effort to find wildflowers ended before noon. What's blooming now is limited to mostly perennial herbs and woody shrubs. In canyon bottoms where available water is concentrated there remains plenty of color and great nature watching.

Holly-leaf Buckthorn
Holly-leaf Buckthorn
May 10, 2014, North of Carefree, AZ. Large shrub w/holly-like leaves. Clusters of small yellow-green flowers. More info
Desert Honeysuckle
Desert Honeysuckle
May 10, 2014, North of Carefree, AZ. 1-½ m tall shrub with long tubular orange-red flowers with hummingbirds in attendence. More info
Buckhorn Cholla
Buckhorn Cholla
May 10, 2014, North of Carefree, AZ. Succulent stems appearing segmented and covered with sharp spines and minute spines. Numerous petals and stamens. More info
Engelmann Prickly-Pear
Engelmann Prickly-Pear
May 10, 2014, North of Carefree, AZ. Stems forming flat, disc-shaped pads. Large yellow flowers arrated on margins of top pads. More info
Woolly Desertstar
Woolly Desertstar
May 10, 2014, North of Carefree, AZ. Herbaceous annuals now almost completely whithered away. Long cottony hairs on stems and sepals. More info

Mar. 30th, 2014. A mini-Bio-Blitz spearheaded by members of the Phoenix Chapter of the Arizona Native Plant Society turned up more than 130 plants in bloom in Walnut Canyon and White Canyon Wilderness south of Superior Arizona. Many of the annuals were much smaller than there size after a proper amount of winter rain. We also observed birds, reptiles, butterflies, amphibians and mammals. Thus, despite the shortage of precipitation we found much to capture our attention:

Desert Rose Mallow
Desert Rose Mallow
Mar. 30, 2014, White Canyon Wilderness, AZ. Delightful yellow with five broad petals on a scragly few-stemmed shrub. More info
Red Maids
Red Maids
Mar. 30, 2014, White Canyon Wilderness, AZ. Fleshy stems and leaves. Grows low to soil with bright pink or white blooms. More info
Purple Owl's Clover
Purple Owl's Clover
Mar. 30, 2014, White Canyon Wilderness, AZ. Spikes of super magenta flowers on short herbaceous plants. More info
Desert Phlox
Desert Phlox
Mar. 30, 2014, White Canyon Wilderness, AZ. Snow-white flowers at termina of tall, slender stems. More info
Golden Linanthus
Golden Linanthus
Mar. 30, 2014, White Canyon Wilderness, AZ. Small plant with several long-peduncled, five-petaled flowers. More info

Mar. 17th, 2014. The welcome rain from March 1st has revived some annuals and spurred perennials to bloom. Several spots had thin, but bright yellow carpets of bladderpod. The following were found at the southern end of Rainbow Valley where it adjoins the North Maricopa Mountains Wilderness:

Brown-foot
Brownfoot
Mar. 16, 2014, Rainbow Valley, AZ. Common name reflects the plant when dormant. Delicate pink and very sweet smelling when blooming! More info
Yellow Bladderpod
Desert Bladderpod
Mar. 16, 2014, Rainbow Valley, AZ. Much shorter than usually seen in wet years. Look for bladder-like seed pods 3mm dia. More info
Peppergrass
Peppergrass
Mar. 16, 2014, Rainbow Valley, AZ. Minute green white flowers on a small plant will go unnoticed except by an observant nature lover. More info
Prickly Poppy
Prickly Poppy
Mar. 16, 2014, Rainbow Valley, AZ. Large white flowers atop a very prickly plant. Likes pastures where there are too many animals. More info
Desert Lupine
Lupine
Mar. 16, 2014, Rainbow Valley, AZ. Compound leaves arranged palm-like. Slender, hairy leaflets. Purple flowers. More info
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Mar. 8th, 2014. Sure enough, last weekend our more than 2 months without rain ended with a substantial rainstorm that produced from 12 to 50 mm of rain across the Sonoran Desert. A few annuals that had nearly died have been revived, but it has been the perennials that have responded strongly and are now blooming well in some places. Today along US-60 east of Mesa there were plenty blooms expecially near the roadsides including Desert Marigold, Brittlebush, Creosote Bush, Parry's Beardtongue, and Canyon Ragweed. At Boyce Thompson Arboretum the gardens were ablaze with color and the desert trails offered the following among many other species:

Purple Bladderpod
Purple Bladderpod
Mar. 8, 2014, Superior, AZ. White with purple flowers have four petals. Fruit are spherical and turgid. More info
Blue Dicks
Blue Dicks
Mar. 8, 2014, Superior, AZ. Slender, grass-like leaves all at ground level. Clusters of lavender-blue flowers atop tall wand stalk. More info
Miner's Lettuce
Miner's Lettuce
Mar. 8, 2014, Superior, AZ. Minute white flowers in center of cup-shaped bract. Grows in shady spots along cliff faces. More info
Lacepod
Lacepod
Mar. 8, 2014, Superior, AZ. Flowers white, but very small and hard to see. Fruit is a flat disc with a wonderful lacy border. More info
Bush Penstemon
Snapdragon Bush;Bush Penstemon
Mar. 8, 2014, Superior, AZ. One or two-meter tall bush with abundant bright yellow snap-dragon flowers. On cliff slopes with partial shade. More info

Feb. 23rd, 2014. The peak of springtime wildflowers may well be passed. Two months without rain have left annuals very small or absent, while shrubs are putting forth lackluster shows of color. But, wait! Next weekend is predicted to bring some rain. How much is anyone's guess.

Creosote Bush
Creosote Bush
Feb. 23, 2014. Tucson Mountains. Woody shrubs, with resinous, dark green leaves and fuzzy-white seeds. Up to 2 m tall. More info
Triangle-leaf Bursage
Mar. 8, 2014, Superior, AZ. Not showy, flowers greenish yellow. Frequent cause of pollen allergies. Medium-sized woody shrub. More info
Desert Marigold
 © by Mike Plagens
Feb. 23, 2014. Tucson Mountains. Low-growing perennial herb with over-sized, bright yellow daisy-flowers. Mostly at roadsides that get extra water. More info
Orange Fiddleneck
Feb. 23, 2014. Tucson Mountains. Way smaller than usual this year. Leaves feel prickly. Slender herbaceous stems. More info
Fairy Duster
Nightshade
Mar. 8, 2014, Superior, AZ. Shrubby plants with compound leaves. Largest plants with biggest flower clusters at roadsides. More info

Feb. 1st, 2014. We were surprised to find many wildflowers blooming while touring Old US-80 along Arlington Mesa and the rocky hills near Gillespie Dam (s.w of Buckeye, AZ) Some decent rains in Nov-Dec 2013 were followed by very mild Dec and January temperatures. Several hillsides were all yellow with Bladderpod, a kind of mustard. Without significant rain during this February, the spring wildflower seasonnfor 2014 will be mostly very bleak.

Fremont Thornbush
Goldeneye
Feb. 1, 2014. Woody shrubs, mostly just under 2 m tall, with fleshy leaves and small purple flowers. More info
Desert Sunflower
Feb. 1, 2014, Yellow rays and yellow discs. Herbaceous annual of sandy soils. Leaves gritty textured. More info
Coulter's Globe Mallow
 © by Mike Plagens
Feb. 1, 2014. Low-growing annual often in the partial shade of desert shrubs. Five very orange petals. More info
Bladder-Pod
Feb. 1, 2014. Bright yellow, four-petalled flowers on low herb. Fruit forms spherical pods. More info
Lamb's Quarters
Nightshade
Feb. 1, 2014, Robust weedy plant at margins of farm fields and along irrigation ditches. Flowers green-red and very small. More info

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2013 Wildflower Archive

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Great Wildflower Websites for North America:

  1. Wildflower Sightings - Help create the most extensive and comprehensive wildflower database in the world!
  2. Arches National Park, Utah
  3. Boundary Waters Canoe Area - Northern Minnesota and Southern Manitoba
  4. California Academy of Sciences
  5. Illinois Wildflowers
  1. Missouri Wildflower Guide
  2. New England
  3. Southwest Colorado
  4. Tucson, Arizona

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2014