March 11, 2014

Wildflowers season subtle this year

Sand verbena populate the west side of Donnell Hill in Twentynine Palms. (Darrell Shade photo)

By Kurt Schauppner
The Desert Trail

In spite of a recent rainstorm, local wildflower expert Darrell Shade did not have good news for this year’s wildflower season in the Morongo Basin.

“This is going to be a very poor wildflower season,” he said.

“The February rain saved what little bit of wildflowers we are seeing now,” Shade said. “As you drive west on Highway 62, you see the yellow splashes of color provided by desert dandelions. They are mostly on the north side where drainage from the pavement was heaviest.”

The large white flowers of the datura or jimson weed are beginning to appear as well, he said, adding that the 3-foot-high shrubs with the yellow flowers and bladder-shaped fruits are bladder-pod.

“Driving around town, you can see the dandelions on many street corners and roadsides. Here and there are a small number of notch-leaf phacelia with their purple flowers,” Shade said.

Small patches of brown-eyed evening primroses can be seen as well. The creosote bushes are blooming everywhere.

“They are a pretty sight with their shiny, waxy coated leaves covered with yellow flowers and little white fuzzy fruit. Draped over shrubs in some places are the star vine, with fragrant flowers,” Shade said.

Joshua trees have been blooming in Joshua Tree National Park for a couple of weeks now. They are mostly seen from Queen Valley to the Hidden Valley campground area.

“There are a few beavertail cacti in full bloom with their large pink flowers along the drive into 49 Palms Oasis parking lot,” he added.

Shade also noted a nice sandy area on the northeast corner of Park Boulevard and Geology Tour Road where sand verbena and woolly marigolds are providing splashes of pink and yellow.

“The nicest show of wildflowers will be at the west entrance in the next few weeks, where it is greenest,” he added.