California desert experiences wildflower ‘superbloom’

Anza-Borrego State Park sees explosion of lilies, white primroses and brittlebrush in most prolific year since 1999

Angela Fritz
Thursday 09 March 2017 08:37 GMT
The Anza-Borrego Desert is experiencing a superbloom of wildflowers after a wet winter
The Anza-Borrego Desert is experiencing a superbloom of wildflowers after a wet winter (Zandtrick/Instagram)

A wildflower superbloom is underway in the desert southwest in March after seven inches of winter rain. Anza-Borrego State Park in California hasn’t experienced a bloom so prolific since at least 1999 according to park officials.

“This is shaping up to be a great wildflower year!” the park wrote on its Facebook page late last week. “Desert lilies are spectacular, and other annuals are coming along nicely! Make plans now to visit near the middle of the month.”

The purple sand verbena is widespread in the Anzo-Borrega right now. It’s native to the southwest and it thrives in well-drained soil. Pristine white primroses are also in bloom among yellow-flowered brittlebush. But, according to hikers’ reports, the most uncommon flower in bloom this year is the purple, notch-leaved phacelia.

It’s “a very rare event,” one hiker noted on the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association website:

With over 7 inches of rain this season, the Borrego Desert is verdant green with flowers in stages of both bud and early bloom. We are on the “uphill side” of the peak bloom and experiencing more open flowers with each passing sunny day. We note a few locations where open flowers can be seen, especially for those willing to wander among the mix of buds and blooms. A top location is anywhere within a two-mile stretch of the Coyote Canyon Jeep Road, north of the north end of DiGiorgio Road with abundant Peirson’s Primoses and others, including a few remarkable Desert Lilies.

Another worth a look is the Henderson Canyon Road with patches of pink Sand Verbena, Dune Evening Primroses with their wide white petals, yellow Desert Sunflowers beginning to bloom, and a few Desert Lilies. Around Borrego Springs, roadsides are lined with yellow Desert Dandelions and other wildflowers. These flowers are best seen in the morning, as some blossoms close in the afternoon.

If you want to see the superbloom in-person, the park says the best time to view the flowers is in the morning. They close up in the afternoon heat.

The Washington Post

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