Arizona's Wildflowers

Check out our extensive Arizona wildflower list at the bottom of the page, complete with vibrant photos and bloom information! How many will you see in 2023?

February showers make March wildflowers in the desert parks and create yet another reason to explore this beautiful state! During years of average and above average precipitation, it seems every direction you look there are beautiful yellow, red, white, orange, blue, or purple flowers blanketing the landscape. Try not to be discouraged during the dry years...The desert is resilient and will do its best to impress while propagating the species.

Parks at higher elevations see flowers later in the year, around May, and the blooms last well into the summer. There's typically more rainfall up north, which equates to even more beautiful northern Arizona wildflowers. The contrast of vibrant flowers against the backdrop of green is a sight to behold, so get your camera, comfortable outdoor shoes, and plenty of water and enjoy the rich colors across the state. Watch the video below as Carlos with Arizona State Parks and artist Annemarie Comes share quick tips on enjoying the desert's colorful display.

 


Picacho Peak State Park

Picacho Peak is arguably one of the best spots to see blooming wildflowers and cactus in Arizona, with bushels of incredible golden blooms throughout the park. The desert wildflowers here offer a unique and beautiful contrast to the green and brown hues of this Sonoran Desert destination. Experience the trails as they wind through a colorful sea of yellow, orange, purple, and red wildflowers, each step exposes new beautiful along the way. Plants, shrubs, and cacti all blooming, seemingly for your pleasure...Extend your trip and enjoy a stay in the campgrounds to get the most out of Arizona's wildflower season. Springtime weather is perfect for a desert camping experience, book a trip and expose yourself to the beauty Arizona so selflessly shares with you.

Wildflower Report 3/4/22

Poppies are sprouting in the park, but not in great numbers. With the dry wild grasses, they can be hard to spot. This will definitely not be a robust wildflower year, but there are splashes of color near the visitors center.

A few bright Mexican gold poppies dot the landscape at Picacho Peak State Park

Wildflower Report 2/25/22

So far, a few fiddle necks and about 2-dozen poppies have bloomed. Unless we get lucky, it could be a sub-par wildflower year at Picacho. As playfully put by Park Manager Carolin, “The flowers are still in quarantine, they don't gather in groups and they still work from home.”


Lost Dutchman State Park

Due to our dry winter weather, wildflowers are not abundant at the park this year, but they are increasingly present. Flowers at this park usually start a couple weeks after Picacho Peak, and little bursts of brittlebush and poppies are starting to show.  Flowering plants in this park may include, but are not limited to: chuparosas, poppies, fiddle necks, globe mallow, chuparosa, brittle bush, desert evening primrose, blue dicks, lupine, ocotillo, chicory, scorpion weed, skeleton weed, jojoba, Mormon tea, phacelia, bluebell, and more! 

Wildflower Report 3/28/22

Beware of the invasive wildflower species called stinknetThe warm weather and end of March signal the closing of peak flower season for Lost Dutchman State Park, as delicate annual blooms die down and the sturdier beautiful yellow brittlebush flowers slowly fade away.  They are still on the mountain for a short time for you to enjoy. Then these wildflowers will give way to the less frequently noticed, but steadfast and short-lived native cactus flowers in April/May as temps continue to warm.   

Pictured right: While cute, these yellow cluster flowers are actually an invasive species called stinknet.  They easily burn and can cause skin and respiratory allergic reactions. Beware the stinknet!

Wildflower Report 3/21/22

Wildflowers are out and blooming now! Come see them now before they're gone. Brittlebush are plentiful and most readily found on trails. Be on the lookout for poppies and globe mallow, with their bright yellow/orange flowers. Large clusters of chuparosa can be found at the intersection of Jacob’s Crosscut and Siphon Draw trails. Storksbill and other small annuals are in bloom, producing tiny pink or white flowers low to the ground.

Wildflower Report 3/12/22

Wildflowers are out and blooming now! (Just don’t expect a banner wildflower year.) Poppies are still shy, and the brittlebush flowers are not blanketing the mountain as in wetter years. Desert hyacinth are plentiful on all trails though, with chuparosa found at the intersection of Jacob’s Crosscut and Siphon Draw trails. Storksbill and other small annuals are in bloom, producing tiny pink flowers low to the ground.

Wildflower Report 3/4/22

While not abundant, there are scattered wildflowers to be seen. Most eye-catching is the desert hyacinth, found on any and all of our trails. The brittlebush, chuparosa, and fairy duster are hanging out by the small washes that cross the trails, and there are just a few poppies budding, but not many are in bloom! The storksbill are in bloom, producing tiny pink flowers low to the ground.

If we get rains and mild climates, we can expect more blooms next week.

Wildflower Report 2/25/22

The mountain is not on full display, but the showy poppies and brittlebush have started to bloom. We hoped for rain this week, and instead got snow! The freezing temperatures killed off some of the new buds, but some seeds still underground hopefully survived to germinate later on.

Current status for finding wildflowers: still sparse and inconspicuous, but you may find a purple desert hyacinth or a yellow aster here or there.

Wildflower Report 2/14/22

Status: Sparse and inconspicuous, but increasingly present (no poppies)

Pro tips: Walk slow, look low. Watch out for the jojoba, in full bloom.

Preview some of the blooms and get weekly updates on the Lost Dutchman State Park Facebook page.


Catalina State Park

This Sonoran Desert dominated park is fed by snow melt through two large washes, which brings cooler temperatures, and beautiful blooms that last a bit longer. This is actually quite convenient for visitors hoping to extend their wildflower season by visiting this southern Arizona destination after seeing the beauty of other parks across the state! With such a large variety of flowering plants, shrubs, and cacti, this park is really a sight to behold when the bloom is taking place. Springtime brings beautiful sights and aromatic appreciation to park visitors, combine these with a hike through the desert for an absolutely unforgettable experience.   

The Catalina State Park Facebook page posts wildflower updates during the spring season. Follow along and visit the park when your favorite plants are blooming!


Alamo Lake State Park

Alamo Lake isn't just for world-class fishing and off-roading! The park has so much more to offer, like amazing blooms that blanket the landscape in late March and early April. The high desert getaway is covered in brittlebush flowers and blooming palo verde trees along the shores and hills surrounding the lake, which makes for amazing views on your hikes through the Sonoran desert. The juxtaposition of bright yellow starbursts among desert landscapes is a bucket list item begging to be checked off! Reserve a cabin or campsite to take advantage of all Alamo Lake has to offer, and to see the blooms as they hit their peak of Arizona wildflower season!

Wildflower Report 2/25/22

So far we have seen just a touch of fiddleneck, desert senna, and some sweet acacia. Brittlebush is beginning to bloom, and many of the plants are loaded with buds, promising more to come. The nice rain we received last night and this morning should help it kick off. 


Red Rock State Park

Red Rock rests at a higher elevation, so their wildflower season usually begins in May and continues through mid-June, as long as moisture levels remain high. Due to above average winter precipitation and temperatures, many early spring annual plants may sprout early. Take a peek at what's sprouting on the Red Rock State Park Facebook page.

Wildflower Report 2/25/22

Currently there are very few stork’s bill & fleabane blooming. The recent moisture could help more wildflowers germinate.


Native Arizona Wildflowers

Arizona’s flowering plants bloom at various times of year, although the spring wildflower season is generally the best time to view unforgettably vibrant fields of color. Provided there has been ample late winter/early spring rains, Arizona’s deserts absolutely come alive from late February through April and draw in visitors from around the world to admire the splendor. Many of these flowering desert plants attract hummingbirds as well to truly accentuate a colorful springtime park experience! Check out the following list of wildflowers you can find in Arizona's State Parks.

Marsh Aster Aster pauciflorus

Wildflowers: Marsh Aster being pollinated by a bee.

Marsh Aster is found in riparian and drainage zones throughout Arizona. As the name implies, this forb is found within close proximity to a regular water source.

Brittlebush Encelia farinosa

Wildflowers: Brittlebush blooming in Sonoran Desert

Many of Arizona's rocky desert slopes and hillsides are alive with the yellow flowers of brittlebush in the spring. This is a very common, yet extremely gorgeous wildflower species.  

Bluedicks Dichelostemma capitatum

Wildflowers: Bluedick Flower purple bloom on desert floor

This member of the lily family has a large range that encompasses the lowest deserts up to seven-thousand feet! Bluedicks may not actually be blue, depending where you are...White, purple, and pink flowers may be experienced throughout their range. 

Chuparosa Beloperone californica

Wildflowers: Red Chuparosa blooms at Lost Dutchman State Park

The semi-succulent tubular flowers of the chuparosa are typically red, although orange and yellow variants can be found throughout the sonoran desert range. Chuparosa flowers are a favorite of hummingbirds wintering in the desert.

Coulter's Lupine Lupinus sparsiflorus

Wildflowers: Coulter's Lupine blooms amid poppys at Picacho Peak State Park

Typically found below 4,500 feet in central and southern Arizona, the (usually) bluish-purple flowers of this pretty annual can vary to varying degrees of pink and even white. Flowering season is March to May. 

Desert Chia Salvia columbariae

Wildflowers: Low elevation Desert Chia blooms on desert hillside

Of the 16 species of Salvia found in Arizona, the Desert variety is by far the most widespread. The blue (or purple) flowers typically bloom from March to May at desert elevations below 3500 feet.

Desert Chicory Rafinesquia neomexicana

Wildflowers: Small white Desert Chicory blooms in Arizona wash

This small member of the sunflower family sports white flowers, is usually less than two-feet tall, and occurs in gravel or sandy areas of both the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts between 200 and 3,000 feet in elevation.

Desert marigold Baileya multiradiata

Wildflowers: Round, yellow Desert Marigold blooms at Roper Lake State Park.

A conspicuous desert perennial with a short life span that flowers in March and intermittently through November. Found on rocky slopes and sandy areas of the desert floor from 100 to 6000 feet in elevation.

Desert Primrose Oenothera primiveris

Wildflowers: Yellow Desert Primrose blooms in desert wash

Found from the desert floor up to 4500  feet in elevation, these annual herbs commonly bloom on the sandy desert floor and associated topography like hills and washes.

Desertstar Daisy Monoptilon bellidiforme

Wildflowers: A mat of Desertstar Daisy flowers in sandy desert wash

This annual herb is usually found in desert washes and other sandy locations below 3000 feet in elevation. This ground level desert plant grows in clusters adorned with small white flowers.

California poppy Eschscholzia californica

Wildflowers: Close up photo of California Poppy blooms at Picacho Peak State Park

The California poppy is found throughout the Sonoran Desert and in great abundance during years of above-average precipitation. 

Gravel Ghost Atrichoseris platyphylla

Wildflowers: Wispy and white Gravel Ghost blooms in Arizona desert wash

Typically found in desert washes and valleys below 4500 feet, these white flowers seem to be "ghostly" floating on their tall (up to 2.5 ft.) thin stalks.

Fairy duster Calliandra californica

Wildflowers: Pink Fairy Duster blooms in Sonoran Desert

The thin, wispy flowers range from light pink to orange throughout the desert region. The Fairy Duster, an important food item for a variety of desert dwelling birds and animals, is found below 5,000 feet on open hillsides and sandy washes.

Fiddleneck Amsinckia intermedia

Wildflowers: Small and yellow Fiddleneck flowers on rocky desert hillside

During years of above-average rainfall, the yellow-orange flowered fiddlenecks will be particularly abundant and found in dense patches in the upland desert. This plant irritates human skin upon contact.

Lyreleaf Jewelflower Streptanthus arixonicus

Wildflowers: White Lyreleaf Jewelflower blooms in sandy Arizona wash

This small biennial to annual flowering herb is actually a member of the mustard family. Interestingly, the white flowers turn to yellow the further east in range occurrence. In Arizona most jewelflowers are white. 

New Mexico Thistle Cirsium neomexicanum
Wildflowers: Close up photo of New Mexico Thistle along a desert trail

This forb can reach a height of over six feet tall throughout its range. The thistle blooms from March through September after above-average rainfall.

Purple Mat Nama demissum

Wildflowers: Purple Mat blooms in rocky Arizona wash

A small spring annual that grows in large "mats" sporting numerous purple flowers. Present only after above-average winter precipitation in desert flats, and somewhat rocky areas near washes.

Purple Owl's Clover Castilleja exserta

Wildflowers: Close up photo of Purple Owl's Clover blooms

After periods of above-average rainfall, these beautiful annual forbs can produce huge swaths of color in generally open desert areas from March through May.

Rock Daisy Perityle emoryi

Wildflowers: Rock Daisy flowers blooming on sandy Sonoran desert floor

A small, delicate, annually recurring herb, the Rock Daisy is usually found in relatively open rocky or sandy desert areas.

Scorpion weed Phacelia distans

Wildflowers: Scorpion Weed flowers on rocky Sonoran Desert hillside

Scorpion weed usually blooms from February through June and is found typically along desert washes and hillsides between 1,000 feet and 4,000 feet.

Yellow Cups Camissonia brevipes

Wildflowers: Western Arizona Yellow Cups blooming at River Island State Park

Flowering best during years of above-average desert rainfall, these small yellow flowers typically occur in western Arizona between 300 ft and 6000 ft elevation.

 


You can always contact the parks by phone to see what blooms have made their appearance! February is the earliest wildflowers will start to bloom, and often they wait until March. The season depends on precipitation and temperature, so you never know what you'll see!

Always remember to treat the landscape and blooms with respect, and be careful not to pick or trample the flowers! Help us keep the parks beautiful for all visitors to Arizona State Parks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to top