Receive wildflower updates.
Add your name to our email list.
members support the educational work of the Anza-Borrego Desert
Natural History Association and provide tourism services in Borrego
support is appreciated.
Anza-Borrego Flower App developed by
Fred Melgert. Now available for both
android and iPhone
January 11, 2019
Bloom Prediction for 2019
Botanist Kate Harper has been making field observations over
the past weeks and has just issued her prediction for the
2019 bloom season. Please read her report in its
entirety, but the bottom-line is that we are on track for a
very good bloom this season with just a couple of weather
conditions that could alter it.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park 2018-19
“Season” Bloom Analysis and Prediction
by Kate Harper
Desert Research Botanist
|Rain Analysis Related to Blooming
We appear to be heading into a
2-pulse 2018-19 “Season”.
triggered the first pulse of blooming?
We had significant rain in spotty
areas of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (the Park)
on October 12, 2018. It was still hot in the Park,
but it was cooling off from the peak summer heat. It
appears that the temperature was still warm enough
to trigger the germination of some monsoonal plants
(summer storm triggering plants), and just cooled
down enough to trigger the germination of some
“spring” plants (calendar winter, but what we call
in the desert spring).
So, right now, in
mid-January 2019, we are having the beginning of a
bloom! BUT, just in the spotty areas that received
the thunderstorm rain on October 12, 2019.
Unfortunately, none of the popular close-to-town
flower field areas are included in this spotty early
What has triggered the second, more common pulse of
received 0.39 inch of rain in a November 29-30, 2018
storm. This is not enough rain to trigger widespread
germination, BUT it is enough rain to soften the dry
surface of the soil and to make the soil receptive
to additional rain without run off. And, so what do
you want after such a preparatory rain? A storm of
at least 1 inch. And, the Park got it! A storm event
on December 5-6, 2018 delivered 1.05 inches of rain.
Now we have enough rain to trigger widespread
germination of “Spring” annuals.
the desert in the “Spring” like you would think
about planting a garden. After you have the seeds
in, all experts suggest “give your garden a good
soaking”. That is the December 5-6, 2018 storm that
delivered 1.05 inches. Then, what do the garden
experts tell you? They say, “Water at regular
intervals.” And, voila! The skies have delivered
just such a watering regime, so far: A semi-soaking
on December 31, 2018 of 0.52 inch. A nice interval
watering on January 6, 2019 of 0.11 inch. And, right
on cue, another interval watering of 0.14 inch on
January 12, 2019!
So, does this
guarantee us a lovely “Spring” Bloom this year?
Only 2 kinds of
events could derail a lovely “Spring” bloom this
year: multiple days of below freezing temperatures
or multiple days of super hot temperatures. Either
of these could impact the plants. BUT, barring those
events, we are ON for a lovely year to be in the
flower-filled Borrego Desert!
January 10, 2019
And now more rain!
It is raining lightly in Borrego Springs this evening and
still more rain is predicted in the coming week.
More rain and winter flowers
rain in Borrego Springs last night and continued cool
temperatures are keeping ample moisture in the soil, exactly
what is needed for an excellent flower bloom this spring.
It also appears that we are seeing a normal cycle of winter
storms moving through the area on a 10-14 day baises. That's
more good news.
The main bloom will be in springtime, whenever daily
temperatures start to reach into the high 70s and 80s on a
consistent basis. But the rain is already giving us
unusual winter blooms in some areas, with scattered patches
of flowers being reported in various locations. The
photos below were submitted by Terry Hunefeld.
Winter flowers - San Felipe Wash north of West Butte, just
north of Hawk Canyon.
Photos by Terry Hunefeld
Meanwhile, Fred and Carla are also reporting small blooms,
moist conditions, and good germination. Their most
recent report comes from the East Butte area and mentions
desert sand verbena, brown-eyed primrose, as well as some
desert lillies being spotted on their hike.
Desert Lilly 1/4/2019 Photo by Fred
December 31, 2018
Flower Forecast Update:
2019 Flower Season
We are receiving heavy rain
in Borrego Springs on this last day of 2018, and snow above
2500 feet. This storm greatly increases the likelihood
of a excellent wildflower bloom this spring. It will
be a good year; there will be spring flowers this year in
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and Borrego Springs.
It's too early to say with any certainty when exactly the
bloom will take place. It will happen when
temperatures warm up in springtime. We could have a
prolonged bloom that starts in February and continues into
March, or we could have the more typical "peak bloom"
scenario that takes place over one or two weeks, typically
in March, but sometimes in February. We just have to
see how nature decides to make its presentation.
Water flows in the "dry creekbed" of the ABDNHA botanical
December 25, 2018
First Flower Forecast:
2019 Flower Season
Anyone who has read our flower forecasts in the past knows
that a desert wildflower bloom is a hard thing to predict,
especially early in the season. That said, things are
looking very positive right now for an excellent wildflowers
bloom this season. In fact, there are some wildflowers
blooming right now - more about that later - see below.
As for the spring forecast, we had a heavy rain in mid
December that percolated down deep into the soil, and we had
another light rain yesterday. If this pattern of rain
continues into January / February all the conditions will
exist for an excellent bloom in 2019.
The big question we always get is When will it
happen? Typically the peak of a
wildflower bloom in the Borrego Valley is in March, and
generally in the first half. But the weather so far
this season has some wildflower prognosticators
thinking that we could see an earlier peak bloom this year,
maybe in February. If the rain comes (as has been the
case so far this winter), then the bloom will come when
temperatures warm up in Springtime. When is
Springtime? It's when the temperatures warm up!
That's generally March but it sometimes happens in February.
So keep posted.
As far as right now is concerned, we have
had the rain and we have also had consistent warm days and
that has given us unusual winter blooms in some areas.
These are not the expansive fields of flowers that we see in
the spring but there are some pretty impressive winter
blooms taking place right now in some areas. Marcy
Yates reports, "There are wide swaths of verbena blooming
around Yuma, AZ. We also saw a few brown-eyed primroses and
desert sunflowers along Hwy 78 starting from just before the
Ocotillo Wells Recreational Vehicle Area going east until
almost Hwy 86." Also, botanist Tom Chester posts the
photos below from June Wash.
Sand Verbena June Wash Photo by Tom Chester
Brown-eyed Primrose, June Wash, ABDSP. Photo by Tom
On December 25, the
following information was posted by Fred and Carla from
Palo Verde Smoke tree Loop. They said:
Driving by this looked so green. Wow, this is one of the
greenest places outside of the badlands right now. Many
Encelia farinosa farinosa, Brittlebush
are in full bloom along with Krameria that
otherwise almost never blooms right here. Amazing how fresh
Cylindropuntia ramosissima, the Diamond
cholla can look, they might even bloom this season.
We also saw many Eschscholzia, poppy
and some Ferocactus cylindraceus,
California barrel cactus in bloom.
We've never checked the Echinocactus polycephalus
polycephalus Cottontop cactus right
here, but this was the time to do so. We say our first
Lupinus arizonicus, Arizona lupine of
the season in bloom. So far this hike has given us the
highest bloom numbers of the season.
As usual, Fred also posts some beautiful photos of what they
Phacelia crenulata ambigua, Notch leaf phacelia
(Dec/25/2018) Photo by Fred Melgert
Lupinus arizonicus, Arizona lupine (Dec/25/2018)
Photo by Fred Melgert
Marcy Yates and Bill Sullivan
The ocotillo in several areas have quickly put recent rains
to good use and and have turned a brilliant green with new
lego Springs and Salton City, and the Carrizo Valley east
of Canebrake, everywhere along Highway 78 from Borrego
Springs Road to Ocotillo Wells, and up the Buttes Pass road
to the Slot and Hawk Canyon.
Photo by Marcy Yates
Report by Bill Sullivan
Tuesday was busy this week. I took my first picture along
the Sunrise Highway at 6:23 a.m., not quite an hour's drive
from my San Diego home. The Sunrise Highway is on the west
side of the mountains that keep the rain clouds from heading
east from the Pacific Ocean. It's because of the mountains
that we have our desert, that and the sandstone, mudstone
and claystone that for one reason or another have moved here
from Arizona and Mexico.
At this time of year,
the flowers down in the desert have to be able to survive
summer heat. In the mountains, along the Sunrise Highway,
the flowers can be a bit gentler. And prettier.
San Diego Pea - Taken along the Sunrise Highway
by Bill Sullivan
Lupine and Penstemon - Taken along the Sunrise Highweay
by Bill Sullivan
Poppy - Taken along San Felipe Valley Road by
Prickly Pear in bloom by Bill Sullivan.
Besides the sea of yellow Palo
Verde, Ironwoods and Desert Willows are starting to put on a
show. These pictures were taken at the park visitor center
this morning. By Marcy Yates
Desert Willow Marcy Yates
Ironwood Marcy Yates
Several species of cactus now
blooming in the ABDNHA Garden.
ABDNHA Garden Palo Verde in Bloom
ABDNHA Garden Hedgehog in bloom
ABDNHA Garden Prickly Pear in bloom
We are finally getting some
color in Anza-Borrego and around Borrego Springs! Shades of
ocotillo red, palo verde yellow, apricot mallow, and magenta
of cactus blossoms.
Ocotillo, Palo Verde, Hedgehog
Marcy Yates reports the
ocotillo forests from Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Rec.
Area west to the turn to Borrego Springs Road are awash in a
sea of red right now. There are also some really pretty
specimens blooming along Borrego Springs Road after the
Texas Dip to the Air Ranch.
Feb. 20, 2018
Bill Sullivan reports
that on a recent trip to the desert he was impressed by the
abundance of Chuparosa in flower in Plum Canyon and
Glorietta Canyon, especially Plum Canyon. He also
reported lots of the germination at the southern end of the
Coyote Canyon Jeep Trail, across from the citrus groves.
Bill says we may be two or three weeks away from flowers,
but we will have some flowers for visitors to see this
On a wider scale,
we have not had the rain this winter that gave us the
widespread super bloom last year. Unless there is a
major storm in the next few weeks, this flower season will
consist of more dispersed blooms, pockets of flowers here
and there, wherever the ground moisture holds enough
water to support the annual plant growth.
Jan. 9, 2018
Rain in Borrego Springs
The winter storm that brought heavy rainfall to the coastal
areas and mountains has also given Borrego Springs the first
rain of the winter season. Rainfall in January and February
is the main driver of spring flowers.
data from the ABDSP weather station
https://wrcc.dri.edu/weather/ucab.html .94 inches
of rain were recorded in the past 24 hours. That’s a good
January rainfall for Borrego Springs.
comparison, the same weather station recorded a total of
2.53 inches of rain during all of January 2017 and another
1.99 inches in February of 2017. The flower season cannot
be predicted from one rainfall, but the rain during the last
24 hours was a good start to the winter season.
Nov. 13, 2017
California Riding Hiking Trail
Soapstone Grade - Upper Green Valley - La Cima trail
Fred and Carla
Welcome back to Fred and Carla. This is their first
report of the new desert season.
California fuchsia, Epilobium canum latifolium
Slender wreathplant exigua, Stephanomeria exigua exigua Fred
September 21, 2017
to us by Bill Sullivan
Summer in our desert
ended with a significant (for the desert) rainfall on
September 7. Good-by to fall colors, like in the attached
5970_BlairValley photo. Hello to greenery, like the leaves
of the Ocotillo plant in 5906. The September 7 rain
contributed to the greenery. The rain brought water down
Coyote Creek from the Santa Rosa Mountains. A jeep trail
crosses the creek in a few places. Photo 6008 shows the mess
the rains made of the First Crossing. When we walked to the
Second Crossing on September 20, it looked peaceful.
Second Crossing - By Bill Sullivan
First Crossing - By Bill Sullivan
Ocotillo - By Bill SUllivan
Blair Valley by Bill Sullivan
April 10, 2017
Riding & Hiking Trail - Pacific Crest Loop
Fred and Carla
On a return visit to this higher
elevation hike they report small fields of Douglas'
violet, Viola douglasii, California buttercup and Ranunculus
californicus. Larger fields of California goldfields,
Lasthenia gracilis and Erodium. From the scrups Cup
leaf ceanothus, Ceanothus perplexans was in excellent bloom,
at higher elevations.
Our favorite Bush poppy,
Dendromecon rigida dotted the area.
California goldfields, Lasthenia gracilis Photo by Fred
Some photos taked during the peak
of the bloom 2017:
Glorieta Canyon - 3/27/2017 Andy McElhatton
Flowers from today in Rockhouse Canyon by Fred Melgert -
Englemanns Hedgehog cactus, Desert Willow, Indigo Bush,
Globe Mallow. 3/27/2017
Brittlebush at Glorieta Canyon by Judy Stweart.
Some flower shots from the Moonlight Canyon Trail, Agua
Caliente County Park, by Fred Melgert. Desert fivespot,
Desert Threadplant, Stream orchid, and ghost flower.
This is a fascinating vide of a white-lined Sphnix Moth
caterpiller eating a flower by Fred Melgert. The speed
is amazing. It is easy to see how hundreds of thousands of
this species can quickly turn a field of flowers into a
field of stubble.
Beautiful shot of ocotillo in bloom, from state park visitor
center, with Indianhead in the background.
3/21/2017 By Niall Fritz.
Brittlebush in bloom by Fred Melgert 3/20/2017
Bighorn sheep surrounded by spring flowers Photo by
John Zarem 3/19/2017
Rockhouse Canyon Photo by Fred Melgert. Fred Reports
that Rockhouse Canyon has an excellent bloom right now.
Flower shots from Rockhouse Canyon by Fred Melgert 3/19/2017
Purplemat, Beavertail Cactus, Desert
Dandelions along DiGiorgio Road 3/19/2017
Crossing Coyote Canyon - 03/16/2017
Coyote Canyon - approx 2 miles beyond the end of DiGiorgio -
Golden Poppy and Lupine - Photo by Steve Cobert.
Desert Sand Verbena Clark Dry Lake - Photo by Fred Melgert
Desert Sunflowers Henderson Canyon by Steve Cobert.
Sweeney Pass and Carrizo Overlook. Photo by Judy Stewart
Side Canyon off of Coyote Canyon. Photo by Amy
Side Canyon off of Coyote Canyon. Photo by Amy
Along Henderson Canyon Road Photo by Fred Melgert 3/10/2017
Desert Sunflowers along Henderson Canyon Road by Fred
By Tesa Silvestre
Desert evening primrose, Henderson Cyn Road, this morning,
Not a flower picture but magnificent shot of bighorn sheep
as they hear a noise off
to the side. Bighorn
sheep are now fredquently being seen along the Palm Canyon
Trail at the edge of town in Anza-Borrego Desert State
This photo is by Dean Curtis. 3/9/2017
Lots of green and color in this shot by Amy Brewster
Wild Canterbury Bells,
Pacific Crest Loop Trail photo by Fredi Melgert 3/8/2017
Best recommendation for Drive-By/Easy
Access Flowers: Starting at the ABDNHA Borrego Desert Nature
Center to pick up a free flower location map, you’ll see our
blooming Botanical Garden; then head north on Borrego
Springs Road to see the metal statues.
Drive DiGiorgio Road to the end of the pavement, park, and
get out to see up close Desert Lilies, Spectacle Pod, Sand
Verbena, Desert Sunflowers. For those who want to drive the
(2WD accessible) dirt road beyond the end of DiGiorgio Road
into Coyote Canyon for a couple miles to “Desert Gardens,”
you will see even more blooms (Poppies, Desert Dandelions,
and just beginning to bloom are the Ocotillo and Beavertail
Recommended: Drive north on Borrego Springs Road to the
point where it turns sharply to the right and heads east.
Pull onto the dirt road on the left side of the road right
at the turn. Park and walk around to see blooms and
Arroyo Salado Campground: East on S22 to
the Borrego Badlands and Arroyo Salado Campground to see
lots of Desert Lilies beyond the last campsite.
Hiking: In Full Bloom: Henderson Canyon at the west end of Henderson
Canyon Road (See Desert Lilies, Chicory, Phacelia, a variety
of cactus, metal statues, and mountain views).
Hiking: Little Surprise Canyon on the west end of S22 about
one-third mile south of Palm Canyon Drive (Ghost Flowers,
Barrel Cactus, Desert Lavender, beautiful rocks and views on
the return walk).
Desert dandeliona along Borrego Springs Road by Tesa
Desert Floor covered with Monkey Flowers bu Amy
March 7, 2017
Collins Valley - Box Canyon -
Fred and Carla
A trip to a tiny
dry lake between Collins valley and Box canyon, in our
second try to find Lepidium flavum felipense. It's very busy
with all the tourist driving in Coyote canyon. Water in
second crossing is still rather deep, we noticed the large
number of cars parked before second crossing, a lot didn't
want to try the crossing. Destination Box canyon and than
climb up the rocky wall up to the playa. What we noticed
from above the playa was very very green, but not the good
kind of green. No trace of Lepidium flavum felipense and
other plants that should grow besides it. That was very
strange as on our previous hike we did find Sphaeralcea
leaves, but now none to be found. Down the very steep and
rocky drainage and down Lower Willows. The signs of the
recent rain are very clear, the gully that is the hiking
trail gets deeper and deeper. WOW what a high bloom count,
we are getting closer to peak bloom.
Parish's poppy, Eschscholzia parishii By Fred Melgert
March 5, 2017
Yaqui Meadow Loop -
Fred and Carla
A hike to one of our favorite
spots. Starting on the "Yaqui Meadows Loop" and as the
drainage narrows skipping over to the "Yaqui Meadows -
Glorietta Wash" and finally completing the "Yaqui Meadows
Loop". Trying to get the best of both hikes. Staggering
fields of Bigelow's monkey flower, Mimulus bigelovii
bigelovii (10000+), Ghost flower, Mohavea confertiflora
(500+) and Parish's poppy, Eschscholzia parishii (1000+).
Never seen such large fields of monkey flower and Ghost
flower before. Most flower fields on the sun facing slopes
and some on the flat rocky area's.
Bigelow's monkey flower Photo by Fred Melgert
Photo by Fred Melgert
Wednesday February 24
Arroyo Salado & Fonts Wash - Desert Lilies
It looks like this is going to be a good year for
We have two emails this morning that lilies are about to pop in
Arroyo Salado and Fonts Wash. Both of these areas are in the
Borrego Badlands, east of Borrego Springs and just south of S22 and
in the same region where lilies were reported just
We also have this report and photo from Caroline:
Hundreds of desert lilies all around "The Slot" including
along Buttes Pass Road. Go to parking area for "The Slot"
and then walk downhill or along the jeep road that goes west
from parking area.
Amazing show! Today I also saw
some sand verbena and brown eyed primrose. Desert Sunflowers
are growing, too.
Dune Evening Primrose S22 Just west of the Thimble Trail.
Visit before noon.
Photo by Fred Melgert.
Borrego Springs - Around Town
We have another 'around town" report from inside the town of Borrego
Springs, a walk along the streets of town, that noted the following
plants, some blooming now and some on the on the verge of blooming,
maybe a week or so out.
Desert Lavender, full bloom
Chuparosa, full bloom
and the most beautiful full bud about to open….Fairy Duster,
full bloom Creosote in flower
Ocotillo, full green lush leaves, in bud, a few open flowers already
Brittlebush, in bud and some early bright yellow full bouquets
Datura, coming up, blossoms forming Coyote Melon,
leafing out Desert Trumpet, with buds
Brown-eyed Evening Primrose, starting to flower
California Evening Primrose, about to flower
Spanish Needles, beginning to flower
Yellowheads, beginning to flower
Fishhook Cactus in bloom now
Beavertail Cactus, lots of buds
Apricot Mallow, blooming
Shown Below - Some shots from the ABDNHA Botanical Garden February