Spring Wildflowers

While our family and friends back in Ohio are getting buried under snow and freezing, it has been beautiful every day in Death Valley.  The temperatures are in the 70’s and 80’s and we haven’t had any precipitation all month.  Because of the warm weather, the spring wildflowers are already blooming.

Many people try to time their visit to Death Valley for the blooming of the wildflowers.  We get phone calls all the time asking us when the wildflowers will bloom and the park sends out bulletins about the wildflowers that are blooming and where you can see them.  Usually they bloom in March, starting at the lower elevations and gradually making their way up the valley.

This year we already have wildflowers blooming at the higher elevations, so they are almost a month early.  Because it has been so dry, the lower elevations are not seeing any wildflowers at all.  This will be disappointing for the tourists who come in March, but it is glorious for us right now.

Every time we take a hike I see a new type of wildflower.  They are very different from the wildflowers back in Ohio, so I have learned lots of new names.  There is even a type of common wildflower, Phacelia, that causes a rash much like poison ivy.  I learned to identify that one quickly!  The most common is the golden primrose, or yellow cup, especially up here in Grapevine Canyon.  We see them everywhere along the road as we drive up from our compound.

One thing that is different about these wildflowers – they are very small.  They hug the ground and stay in the shade as much as possible.  They also bloom in the evening and in the morning – when it is coolest – part of their desert survival strategy.

I love seeing these flowers and the signs of spring.  It is hard to believe that in Ohio there is a foot of snow on the ground and the temperature hasn’t hit 10 all week.  I’m glad I’m in Death Valley!

Golden evening primrose, also called yellow cup
A single primrose blossom
Primrose right on the castle grounds
Brown-eyed primrose
The only time the creosote bush is pretty is when it is blooming
Phacelia – pretty to look at but not to touch
Another kind of phacelia