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Arizona Desert Wildflowers

Common Arizona desert wildflowers
Desert plantlife. Photo credits: Bonnie Butterworth, Michael Collins
The desert, at first glance, can seem like a barren, sandy wasteland of cacti and rocks. However, with a little rain and a little sunshine, Arizona's desert flowers just cannot be beat. Desert wildflowers, tiny little miracles of nature that remain hidden much of the year, will come alive and burst with color and aroma in the Springtime (and sometimes after the monsoon season in the summer). Once you experience the desert’s landscape in all its glory, you’ll begin to understand how spectacular the desert plant life truly is.

Ocotillo bloom, Lake Havasu City, AZ
Ocotillo in full bloom
Spring usually arrives earlier to the desert communities than other areas of the country. But with the spring rains come an astonishing array of Arizona wildflowers that emerge. The types of blooms that occur will depend on a mysterious code of rainfall, temperature, and wind conditions. Some years will net a larger bloom than others. Desert wildflowers show their glory when they’re given just the right amount of well-spaced rains from winter through early spring, as well as lots of warm sunlight and little or no desiccating winds.

Just a few types of desert wildflowers you may encounter in and around the Lake Havasu City area, considered the Eastern Mojave Desert, are:

Yellow & Gold Wildflowers

Brittle Bush, Palo Verde (can grow into tall trees if given sufficient water), Desert Sunflower, Barrel Cactus bloom, Desert Dandelion, Mexican Gold Poppies

Purple Wildflowers

Purple Mexican Bush Sage in the desert, Lake Havasu City, AZ
Purple Mexican Bush Sage
Sand Verbena, Mojave Aster, Desert Willow, Indigo Bush, Canterbury Bell, Mexican Bush Sage, Scorpion Weed (see below)

Orange/Pink Wildflowers

Ocotillo blooms, Beavertail Cactus blooms, Desert Globemallow, Chuparosa

White Wildflowers

Sacred Datura, Desert Star, Dune Evening Primrose, White Wooly Daisy
Saguaro cactus in full bloom
Saguaro Cactus in full bloom
One of the most spectacular blooms that occur annually is the mighty Saguaro Cactus. Creamy white flowers with yellow centers clustered near the ends of the branches or stems will open during the cooler desert nights and close during the heat of the day, normally by midday. The Saguaro is prominent throughout the area and will bloom in May and June. Due to the very slow growth and large capacity of the Saguaro to store water, this flower will bloom annually, regardless of rainfall amounts. Arizona’s state flower is the bloom of the Saguaro cactus.

Due to the range of altitudes and the geographical position of the state, Arizona contains virtually every kind of wildflower or wild flowering plant native to North America. If you’re driving out to Lake Havasu City in the spring, you can’t miss the beautiful colors that line the sides of the road.

Warning! Don't pick the Scorpion Weed!

Scorpion weed is very dangerous
Scorpion weed, while beautiful, is very dangerous
Scorpion Weed, also known as Blue Phacelia or Wild Heliotrope, grows in abundance in the Lake Havasu area and is tempting to pick due to its vivid purple color. However, as well as having tiny, razorblade-like leaves/spikes that will cut you, Scorpion Weed can cause allergic reactions in some people, from dermatitis (itchy rash) to as severe as anaphylactic shock. Scorpion Weed is also very invasive, and can overtake a yard in just one season. Please be aware of the dangers of coming in contact with this plant.