With a prolonged drought hanging over California over the last few years, this year's El Niño is bringing dormant life in the Mojave and Colorado deserts back in full force. Like the much hailed "super bloom" currently exploding in Death Valley National Park, the many flowering plants in Joshua Tree National Park are out in full-bloom, and now is most certainly the time to see them!
The iconic Joshua Trees themselves don't bloom every year, but this is their year. Unlike the aster that clearly carpets the low valleys of Death Valley, most of the flowers in Joshua Tree National Park (beyond the Joshua Tree) are of a uniquely miniscule scale. When you look out over the desert landscape from a distance, it appears as if little life exists, let alone thrives. Once you look a little closer, however, an astonishing micro-world of wildflowers and vibrant life exists. The desert proves to be an astonishingly resilient and magical place, and a robust wildflower bloom is a sight to behold!
According to the National Park Service:
"Wildflowers may begin blooming in the lower elevations of the Pinto Basin and along the park's south boundary in February and at higher elevations in March and April. Desert regions above 5,000 feet may have plants blooming as late as June.
The extent and timing of spring wildflower blooms in Joshua Tree National Park vary from one year to the next. Fall and winter precipitation and spring temperatures are key environmental factors affecting the spring blooming period. Normally, desert annuals germinate between September and December. Many need a good soaking rain to get started.
In addition to rains at the right time, plants also require temperatures to warm a bit before flower stalks will grow. Green-leaf rosettes may cover the ground in January, but flower stalks wait until temperatures rise."
To get the full guide to over 240 species of wildflowers in Joshua Tree National Park, visit iNaturalist.org.