Yesterday I joined some friends on an impromptu day trip to southern California to see the spring wildflower bloom. The El Niño rains had brought forth a “superbloom” this year, and while we didn’t have time to go all the way to Death Valley we thought we’d be able to see lots of flowers in closer locations.
Stop #1: Tejon Pass, Tehachapi Mountains
It was interesting to note that we saw poppies only on the south-facing slopes. Wanting to get a closer look we continued on our way.
Stop #2: Cerro Noreste/Hudson Ranch Road above the Maricopa Flats
We stopped briefly in Gorman and got our first close-up look at wildflowers. I got to see my beloved California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), but they were not nearly as abundant as I had hoped.
The flowers in Gorman weren’t as spectacular as we had hoped, and in the interest of expediency we didn’t take much time to explore a site that didn’t look promising. We crossed I-5 and headed west through Frazier Park and onto the Mil Potrero Highway, which at some point becomes the Cerro Noreste/Hudson Ranch Road. And along this road we saw purple and yellow/orange flowers.
I took some close-up shots of the purple flowers, hoping to be able to identify them when I got home. They’re very pretty! And I was able to determine that they are Phacelia ciliata. They were by far the most abundant blue or purple flowers we saw yesterday.
Our other orange flower was fiddleneck, Amsinckia menziesii:
Stop #3: Carrizo Plain
Wanting to check out conditions on the Carrizo Plain, we headed northwest on Soda Lake Road. Our first views of wildflowers on the hills looked like they were part of a pastel painting.
On the Carrizo Plain itself, the most abundant flowers were baby blue eyes (N. menziesii) and goldfields (Lasthenia californica). They made large colorful patches on the plain. So pretty!
Goldfields are not called “goldfields” without reason:
I had never made a trip specifically to see wildflowers before, and although it was a 16-hour day and my allergies and asthma are horrible today, it was totally worth it. The fleeting spring wildflower bloom is one of the things that makes California special. In a state with a Mediterranean climate, this short period of blatant reproduction before the onset of the dry season is a pretty magnificent thing to witness.
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