Above average wildflower bloom expected this season

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 6:28 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Wildflower season in Arizona is just beginning and experts predict this year to be one of the best seasons we’ve seen in years.

Poppy, lupine, and brittlebush are just a couple of the wildflowers you’ll see blooming over the next few weeks. Experts say this year could even be a “super bloom” event.

“We’re talking about not only a whole lot of plants in flower, but a diversity too. We may be lucky to see both this spring,” said Theresa Crimmins, Director of the U.S.A. National Phenology Network.

In Arizona, we’ve seen smaller patches of wildflowers pop up during recent seasons, but we haven’t had a widespread display of wildflowers in years. Crimmins says that could change this season. The rainfall in the fall and winter along with the temperatures have created the perfect combination.

She said, “Across most of the low-lying areas in Arizona, we had a good soaking rain event in October. Then we’ve had pretty good consistent rainfall in the subsequent months and now we’re starting to actually see the consequences of that.”

The snow didn’t have a negative impact on the blooms, but the cooler temperatures at the beginning of the year caused things to be more delayed.

The concern for upcoming years is how the heat and climate change will impact the wildflowers.

“Over time, it could change the timing of some of the flowering given how much of the background warming conditions there are and how it impact soil moisture. Warmer temperatures lead to less effective precipitation,” explained Mike Crimmins, professor at the University of Arizona and climate expert.

This year, he expects blooming to be above average, but wildflowers are unpredictable. As temperatures are predicted to rise over the years due to climate change, we begin to see wildflower bloom drop off.

“That could be the longer-term challenge,” he said. “If we have wet conditions in the fall, but they’re followed by very, very warm, dry conditions, we could actually see that really reverse the germination of the wildflowers.”

You can help researchers observe wildflowers and learn more about them simply by taking pictures and sending them in to Nature’s Notebook.