Desert wildflowers are abundant in Southern Arizona this spring. The plentiful wildflowers are the result of a mild and wet winter. Here are some wildflowers and blooming bushes that one can easily see now.
California Poppy covers whole hillsides and sometimes mixes with Lupine for brilliant color displays. Its yellow to orange cup-shaped flowers consist of 4 petals. Lupine, a member of the Pea Family, has dense spiked clusters of blue flowers and leaves that are palmately divided into 5 to 9 leaflets. The Brittlebush blooms from November to May and can also cover whole areas along the roadsides and hill sides. This member of the Sunflower Family (Asteraceae) grows in gravel and sandy desert flats.
Another blooming bush-like plant is the Fairy Duster with blossoms of dense clusters of pink stamens resembling fireworks. This native shrub grows from 8 to 20 inches tall and is a member of the Pea Family. Ocotillo is indigenous to the Sonoran Desert and for much of the year looks like a bunch of spiny dead sticks. However, with rainfall it quickly transforms and is covered with lush small green leaves. Bright crimson flowers appear after rain in spring, summer, and sometimes in fall. Blue Phacelia is an annual shrub of the Waterleaf Family (Hydrophyllaceae). There are over 100 species of Phacelias in the western US and many have coiled, scorpion tail arrangement of the flowers that are characteristic of this species.
Be prepared for identifying and enjoying the wildflowers that will soon be appearing in Colorado. Rocky Mountain Wildflowers Field Guide is a handy pocket-sized book with approximately 275 wildflowers identified by common, scientific and family names. It is available now at www.highcountryartworks.com and on Amazon.