Flower Power

By local contributor
JoAnne Zeterberg

If you’re wild about wildflowers, spring is the time to hit the trail in Scottsdale. Our Sonoran Desert landscape comes to life every spring with wildflowers and cactus blossoms in all shapes and colors. And thanks to moderate fall rains and warm winter temperatures, this year’s bloom has started right on time!

Where to Go:

Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve offers more than 200 miles of hiking trails that sport spring blossoms. For current information on where the flowers are blooming, check out the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy’s Wildflower Watch. The site also offers information on the Conservancy’s weekly guided hikes, which are filled with insight about the Sonoran Desert’s plants and animals. The Desert Botanical Garden’s Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Loop Trail encompasses nearly two acres of wildflower exhibits planted with year-round displays. The Garden also partners with several regional parks and gardens on the Wildflower Infosite to help you find wildflowers in their natural habitats.

Sonoran Desert Flower Guide:

Lupine

Purple Majestic lupine can be found throughout Scottsdale’s Sonoran Desert. The Tohono O’odham tribe’s name for this plant means “sun-hand,” referring to the way its hand-shaped leaves move to face the sun throughout the day.

Brittlebush

This desert shrub sports tiny yellow flowers and yields a sap that the Tohono O’odham people used for things like glue, incense and chewing gum. Cowboys back in the days of the Old West used the flower’s stem as a fine toothbrush.

Blue Yucca

The Blue Yucca’s showy stalks of flowers are as vibrant as the succulent’s powdery blue leaves. The Blue Yucca’s red roots are frequently used in Tohono O’odham basket weaving.

Penstemon

Besides being beautiful wildflowers, penstemons are a staple for many Scottsdale residents’ gardens because they require little water, are easy to maintain and attract colorful hummingbirds.

Poppy

Poppies can come in all kinds of colors and are well-known for their symbolism. In the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, poppies are worn to commemorate fallen soldiers.

Century Plant

The century plant spends up to 35 years growing a large basal rosette of leaves. Then, a single stalk with golden-yellow blossoms shoots out and grows as much as a foot each day to reach a height of about 15 feet.

Saguaro Blossom

The saguaro blossom, the state flower of Arizona, is a cream-white flower with a bright yellow center and measures about three inches in diameter.

Palo Verde

In Spanish, palo verde means “green stick.” In the spring, the tree sprouts thousands of tiny, bright gold flowers.

Queen of the Night

In the spring, this elusive plant sprouts buds, and then on one summer night, the buds burst open into silky white flowers. Each flower opens for only one night and closes with the morning sun.

Prickly Pear

Prickly pears bloom with brilliant yellow flowers in the spring. The sweet juice from the cacti’s fruit is used in drinks, syrup and jelly.