Late in the season there was a most unusual storm that brought twice the normal annual rainfall to the northern desert in a matter of days. The silver lining in this dark cloud is that it bode well for wildflower season. (The bad news was a flash flood destroyed or damaged roads and buildings in the park.) Rain occurred again in early 2016, but I only heard that there was a “super bloom” after it was well underway.
Being that this this is known to happen in Death Valley only once or twice in a lifetime, we started looking for tickets to the nearest airport (Las Vegas, Nevada- a two hour drive to DV), lodging (not easy), car rental etc. Having accomplished that, we arrived a couple of days later, just in time to catch the last phase of the flowers. It was worth it.
The most common wildflowers in the park were Camissonia brevipes or desert primrose (shown carpeting the desert in the first two photos and a close up above) phacelias and chicories. Wednesday we got off the main road, checked out the middle of the park and found those flowers. Two different species of Phacelias are shown below: the top row is P. calthiflora (based on the short stamen and color) or possibly P. campanularia (based on leaf form and white spot in corolla); bottom right is P. crenulata and the last photo shows the two species
side by side.
Thursday we drove to the north only to find Scotty’s Castle Road closed by the flood. Not to be deterred we walked up the now dry wash into the canyon and were amply rewarded with a wealth of species. My husband discovered our first “Five-spot” and then we saw many more after that.
I spotted this red plant (above) up the wash, assumed it was a flower and walked over to discover it was an infant 5- spot; the red leaves discourage predators from eating tender shoots.
Friday we woke up to high winds- anathema to photographing delicate flowers. I had to make wind breaks with my body and jacket, but even then had to patiently wait until the wind subsided for a moment and quick: click! I did capture a few macros, but soon gave up and just hiked around and decided to try my hand at landscapes. But that’s next week…(It took me too long to go though my many photographs and longer to identify the species of those I didn’t know – i.e.most of them!)
While I would never visit the desert in summer – or even winter – it is a whole different landscape in spring if the area has received some rain. Have you been there?