Originally posted in 2001, I recently updated this page in 2015. Though Death Valley can be famous for spectacular, spring wildflower displays, they are the exception. It is always very difficult to judge when it is going to be a good year for wildflowers at Death Valley National Park. Only under perfect conditions does the desert fill with a sea of gold, purple, pink or white flowers. A good wildflower year depends on at least three things: well-spaced rainfall throughout the winter and spring; sufficient warmth from the sun; and the lack of drying winds. The good news is that even though there are years where blossoms are few, they are never totally absent.
Most of the showy desert wildflowers are annuals, also referred to as ephemerals because they are short-lived. Oddly enough, this limited lifespan ensures survival here. Rather than struggle to stay alive during the desert’s most extreme conditions, annual wildflowers lie dormant as seeds. When enough rain finally does fall, the seeds quickly sprout, grow, bloom and go back to seed again before the dryness and heat returns. By blooming enmasse during good years, wildflowers can attract large numbers of pollinators such as butterflies, moths, bees and hummingbirds that might not otherwise visit Death Valley.
During some of my earlier visits I was able to obtain a few pictures (2010 visit), however there was almost nothing worth stopping for on my 2011 visit. Now in our 12th year of a sustained drought, things seem even worse than in some of my earlier visits. However in 2015, even after arriving 2-3 weeks late for the best wildflower viewing, I still managed to find a few shots worth capturing. For more information on desert plants and flora, go to my index on plants and flowers at ... Plants & Flowers - Index.
|The Desert Five Spot|
Desert Sand Verbina (Abronia villosa)
Desert Sunflower (Geraea canescens)
|Notch-Leaved Phacelia (Phacelia crenulata)|
_______________________________________________Tidy Fleabane (Erigeron concinnus)
I captured these pictures during my 03/28/2015 visit to the park. Unfortunately, we were about 2-3 weeks late from what would have been the best viewing for wild flowers. These were captured while hiking along the lower ridgeline at Dante’s View.
Description: Tidy Fleabane (Erigeron concinnus), a.k.a. Navajo fleabane and Shaggy daisy, is a perennial flowering plant in the family Asteraceae, native to the dry mountains of the Mojave Desert around Death Valley in southeast California and Nevada. It can also be found in Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. “Erigerons”, commonly called "Daisies" or "Fleabanes", are a large and complex genus; there are 130 species in North America and 200 world-wide.
___________________________________________Smooth Desert Dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata)
I captured these pictures during my 03/28/2015 visit to the park. Unfortunately, we were about 2-3 weeks late from what would have been the best viewing for wild flowers. These were captured in the sandy desert area surrounding the road leading up to Dante’s View.
Description: Smooth Desert Dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata), a.k.a. Desert Dandelion, is an annual forb that grows in sunny, open, sandy washes and flats. Its dandelion-like flower heads are up to 1 3/4 inches wide and have numerous, slender, strap-shaped, square-tipped, 5-toothed corollas. The sparse leaves are green, alternate, mainly basal, and usually pinnately lobed with 3 to 6 or more pairs of long, threadlike lobes.
Click here to [Return to the Previous Page]