April 14, 2014

Wildflowers color Joshua Tree National Park

Wildflowers are blooming in parts of Joshua Tree National Park. A group hikes through a patch of wildflowers during a research class at the park on Sunday, April 13, 2014.(Ian James/The Desert Sun)

Ian James
The Desert Sun

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK – Wildflowers are blooming in abundance in parts of Joshua Tree National Park, filling the desert with photogenic patches of yellow, orange, blue, pink and purple.

Flowers have appeared despite the prolonged drought in areas where winter rains wetted the soil enough to trigger the bloom.

“It really looks pretty fantastic,” said Josh Hoines, vegetation branch chief at the national park. “It is one of the better displays we’ve had in recent years, keeping in mind it is confined to a relatively small area.”

The wildflowers are most abundant near the park’s west entrance and in other areas extending to Hidden Valley and Cap Rock.

As he helped lead a research class in the park on Sunday, Hoines pointed out types of wildflowers: Mojave aster, purple mat, tidy tips, woolly daisies, desert dandelions, Fremont’s pincushion and desert globemallow.

“What little rain we did get this winter was patchy and not as widespread as we have had in years past, so what we did get was fairly concentrated,” Hoines said. “We’ve been very surprised and excited to see the displays we do have.”

Some participants in the class bent down to snap photos of the flowers among boulders and Joshua trees.

“The wildflowers were fabulous. They were a real treat for my eyes because I hadn’t seen them in the past few years,” said Esther Shaw, a Yucca Valley artist who participated in the class. “I saw some of the rare wildflowers that you don’t always see.”

Shaw said she will return to the park with a group of artists this weekend with plans to paint a watercolor of wildflowers.

The flowers are now at their peak and will soon start to decline, Hoines said.

“As it heats up, they’re going to go quick,” he said.