Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Prospects for this desert flower season

Most of the year -- and this is unfortunately true of most full years as well -- the deserts surrounding Los Angeles are well described by the title of Raymond Chandler's quintessential LA novel, The Big Sleep, at least as far as flowering plants are concerned. Occasionally, however, we get spectacular desert flower displays during March and April, as transpired in 1992, 1998 and 2003, for example. Precipitation alone is not sufficient, but this year's abundant rains have raised hopes for a spectacular desert flower season.

This picture was taken in March, 2003, in the western section of the Mojave Desert, just east of the Grapevine. The photo looks north, towards the Tehachapi Mountains that separate the Mojave from the Central Valley. A carpet of bright orange poppies can be seen, stretching as far as the eye can see. These poppies bloomed vigorously for a few weeks, and then vanished.

Here is a closer view of the California golden poppy, our state flower:

And finally a side view, showing some of the flower's inner structure behind the petal:


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