Wild Flowers of Arizona
by Philippe Faucon 3/3/2001

A typical road side desert flower association of Coulter's Lupine, Brittle Bush and Globe Mallow

This is desert blooming season.  This winter was particularly wet and the desert rewards us by a spectacular spring display.

Cacti are slower to bloom, now is the time of annuals and herbaceous perennials.

This short article illustrates some of the most colorful and abundant species around Phoenix.  The pictures were taken close to the Boyce-Thompson Arboretum in Superior, and at the Dreamy Draw mountain preserve in Phoenix, but any other location in the area would show the same species.

Mexican Gold Poppies (Eschscholzia mexicana) are very common annuals at the lower elevation of the state.  They start blooming early in February.  There are always large fields of them near Picacho Peak on the highway 10 between Phoenix and Tucson. 

Coulter's Lupine (Lupinus sparsiflorus)

Twenty three species of lupine can be found in Arizona.  Coulter's Lupine (Lupinus sparsiflorus) is one of the most abundant around Phoenix.  Large quantities of them color the roadsides.  Its upper petal has a yellow spot that turns to red when the flower has been fecondated.

Brittlebushes (Encelia farinosa) are blooming most of the year in Phoenix, but their spring display is special.  They are covered with their 1-inch wide daisy like yellow flowers, and having been watered abundantly, they don't have their typical dusty look.

Globemallows (Sphaeralcea sp.) are also coming out in large quantities, mostly in bright orange colors, but also in white, pink or purple.  Although they bloom whenever they feel like, now is prime time.

Brittle Bush (Encelia farinosa)
Globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)

Wild heliotrope (Phacelia distans) is everywhere with hairy stems, and pale blue flowers.  There are also over 3 dozens of different species of Phacelia in Arizona.  Finding which one you are really dealing with can be tricky.

Desert Anemones (Anemone tuberosa) like a higher elevation than Phoenix.  This picture was taken at the Boyce-Thompson arboretum.  Their white flowers are over 1 inch in diameter, but they still are not very noticeable.

Wild Heliotrope (Phacelia distans)

Desert Anemone (Anemone tuberosa)

The Filaree (Erodium cicutarium) is a small member of the geranium family.  Its small 0.25 inch wide purplish flowers are not often given the attention they deserve.  It is actually an European native.

The Fleabanes can be easily identified by their narrow, tightly packed rays.

There are 8 species of Ephedra in Arizona.  They can be found in the hills, and are now covered with yellowish flowers.  Their common name Mormon tea refers to the fact that Mormon settlers made tea with the dried stems. 

Filaree (Erodium cicutarium)

Spreading fleabane (Erigeron sp.)
Mormon Tea (Ephedra trifurca)

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Text and Pictures 2001 Philippe Faucon, All Rights Reserved.