Posted by: Sandy Steinman | January 27, 2016

Death Valley Wildflowers 1/27/16

Death Valley Facebook Page has the following report today

The Badwater Road is the place to be for wildflowers this week. No other paved road even comes close. There are so many flowers out along this road that it’s hard to believe it’s only January! Fields of Brown-eyed Evening Primrose (Camissonia claviformis) and Desert Gold (Geraea canescens) that become denser the farther south you go. If you get out of your car and walk around you are likely to see both Caltha-leaved (Phacelia calthifolia) and Notchleaf Phacelia (Phacelia crenulata), Cryptantha, Mohavea (Mohavea breviflora), Purple Mat (Nama demissum)and Desert Star (Monoptilon belioides). Past Mile Marker 40 you will also see Sand Verbena (Abronia villosa), Shredding Evening Primrose (Camissonia boothii), Golden Evening Primrose (Camissonia brevipes) and Desert Five-Spot (Erimalche rotundifolia). Walking up the alluvial fans and into the washes is likely to reward you with more variety than when you just stay by the roadside. If you do drive down south, please, please, PLEASE do not feed the coyotes! It trains them to run out in the road when they see a car, and they get run over. Feeding them is giving them a death sentence. A fed coyote is a dead coyote.
As for other parts of the park, there are some flowers, more every day, but not in the numbers you find on the Badwater Road. Highway 190 has Desert Gold and Brown-Eyed Evening Primrose from Stovepipe Wells to the East Entrance to the park. The Golden Evening Primrose and Notch-Leaf Phacelia are starting to look pretty good in the canyon area between the Furnace Creek Inn and Zabriskie Point. Turtleback (Psathyrotes ramosissima) and Pygmy Cedar (Peucephyllum schottii) are blooming between Zabriskie Point and the Dante’s View Road. Bigelow Monkeyflowers (Mimulus bigelovii) and Encelia brighten the washes and canyons of the Funeral Mountains.
Mud Canyon is showing some color. The lower parts of the canyon have Desert Gold and Brown-Eyed Evening Primrose, while the brilliant purple and gold of Notch-Leaf Phacelia and Golden Evening Primrose adorn the upper reaches of the canyon.
I did say best paved road. If you are a dirt road back road enthusiast, word is Warm Springs Canyon is the place to go. I’ve heard it is even better than the southern Badwater Road! Millions (yes, millions) of Desert Gold and vast expanses of Brown-Eyed Evening Primrose cover the landscape. The Golden Evening Primrose is unbelievable they say, with some plants large enough to be bushes! There are lots of Desert Five-Spot coming up, and whole hillsides covered with Notch-Leaf Phacelia. Another place where things are starting to happen in the backcountry is the Saratoga Springs Road. Lots of Golden Evening Primrose coming up near the spring, and Sand Verbena is blooming at the ibex Dunes.
Although this is an El Nino year and higher than average precipitation is still predicted for February through April, the rainstorms have not materialized due to a high pressure cell hovering off the coast of California which is effectively blocking the moisture. We need a rainstorm. Some plants are showing signs of stress. If we do not get a rainstorm soon, this will still certainly be a good flower year, but not a superbloom. There are still an incredible amount of tiny seedlings coming up, so we should have plenty of flowers for some time to come, but the numbers will not be as great as originally predicted without additional precipitation. Just a word to the wise….Happy Flower Hunting!

See photos at Death Valley Facebook Page


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