It’s spring in January – or at least it is in parts of Nevada and California.
Wildflowers seem to be transforming the desert landscape, a result of the rain that fell this past fall. The flowering in Death Valley is more typical of late February.
Patrick Donnelly is the executive director of the Amargosa Conservancy in Shoshone, California.
He told KNPR's State of Nevada that "hillsides are turning yellow" with the carpet of blooms in the desert.
Donnelly said the flower responsible for that display is the desert gold, which looks like a sunflower and is sometimes called 'desert sunflower.' But observers will also find purple desert-sand verbena in the sandy washes, the purple and red desert five-spot in washes and flats, and fields of the brown-eyed evening primrose, which has white petals, along Badwater Road.
All the desert color can be attributed to rain we saw in the fall.
"A good wildflower bloom is pretty typical for the Death Valley region but it is unusual to see it this early, but of course we had the wettest October in recorded history in the Death Valley region," Donnelly said.
He said we really can't know how long the bloom will last.
Botanist Pat Leary said we should expect a beautiful display for months to come when one type of flower dies off, another species that needs a little more warmth will start to bloom.
"That's the really neat thing about Death Valley is once we get these rains there will be this continuous feast on the eyeballs of humans for quite some time," Leary said.
Leary said Southern Nevada will see similar displays as the weather warms up. He said Red Rock Canyon and the Spring Mountains should be awash in color through the spring and summer because of the rains we've received in the fall and winter.
Donnelly said to see what is blooming now check out the southern Death Valley and Ashford Mills area, which is about 50 miles south of Furnace Creek.
The Amargosa Conservancy is hosting a free wildflower tour starting Jan. 31 at 10 a.m.
Patrick Donnelly, Executive Director of the Amargosa Conservancy in Shoshone, California; Pat Leary, botany teacher, The College of Southern Nevada/Cheyenne Campus
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