By Anie Wayman-Trujillo
When it comes to desert spring color, Arizona is known for its beautiful cactus blooms, but when the conditions are just right, nothing can compare to the blooming desert wildflowers and the prism of colors they can yield.
With record rain and seldom-seen snow in this high desert of Wickenburg and the surrounding areas, the desert area that sometimes seems like a barren land of cactus and rock has a good chance this year of being transformed into a carpet of flowers.
A good wildflower season is not only determined by the amount of moisture the desert receives, however, but also on how fast and how high the temperature rises in the early spring. This is an important factor for yielding a good wildflower harvest, says Cathy Billingsley, of BC Jeep Tours. “Temperatures need to rise gradually, to allow seeds to germinate and for the blooms to set and raise, if it gets too hot to fast, the blooms will peak and die within a very short period of time”.
The wildflower season in the Wickenburg area usually starts in early March and can last just a couple of weeks. You can find yellow poppies and lupine, which usually dominate the area. Other species such as yellow brittlebush, orange globemallows, red-violet owlclover, white blackfoot daisies can also be found. But beware, because of soil variety combined with the difference in low and high altitude desert regions varieties will vary from place to place within Arizona. It is suggested that enthusiasts go on line or obtain a book specific to Arizona wild flowers to help identify the many different varieties in this area.
For viewing around the Wickenburg area, there are many different hiking trails that can bring the flowers up close. For those wanting to be more adventurous a jeep tour specializing in wild flowers into the back county is a must or you can just hop in your vehicle and head out along the Scenic Loop, Vulture Mine Road, Road 71 to Congress or just about any side road for a show of color.
It is important for those out looking at the wild flowers to also remember that spring is bug and snake season and that those out hiking, climbing or driving around should watch out for the many different poisonous creatures that share our desert region.
For more information on wildflowers in Maricopa County log on to Go Wild Flowers at www.maricopacountyparks.net.