Flora of the PCT: Desert Wildflowers Part I

We’re over halfway through the desert with the Mojave (real desert) left ahead. These first few hundred miles have been full of surprises- lots of water, plant and animal life.

California has had a good deal of precipitation this year, making for lighter packs and vibrant landscapes. There are more amazing smelling plants and beautiful wildflowers than I could have dreamed of. 


Two of several wonderful smelling Ceanothus species.


Delphinium for days!

Here’s what I thought all 700 miles of desert would look like…

Joshua tree Yucca brevifolia


Chaparral yucca Hesperoyucca whipplei


California barrel cactus Ferocactus cylindraceus


Beavertail cactus Opuntia basilaris

Silver cholla Cylindropuntia echinocarpa


Strawberry hedgehog cactus Echinocereus engalannii


Kingcup cactus Echinocereus triglochidiatus

Panamint liveforever Dudleya saxosa


Canyon liveforever Dudleya cymosa


Ocotillo Fouqureria splendens

and other Dr. Suess like plants. I love cacti and succulents, but was truly unaware of how diverse the desert would be. This is high desert with elevations ranging from about 3,000-9,000 feet. We’ve experienced relentless sun and exposure followed by snow and conifers. 

There have been some incredible views, but I have been enchanted by the wildflowers. Everyday the flowers change, there are new species mixed in with the old and many yet to be identified.


Colorado four o’clock Mirabilis multiflora


Bush poppy Dendromecon rigida

Flatbud prickly poppy Argemone munita

Fremont’s monkeyflower Mimulus fremontii

Wild canterbury bells Phacelia minor

Fremont’s phacelia Phacelia fremontii

California milkweed Asclepias californica

Bitterroot Lewisia rediviva

Woolly daisy Eriophyllum wallaccei

Winding mariposa lily Calochortus flexuosus

Desert mariposa lily Calochortus kennedyi

Twincrest onion Allium bisceptrum

Pitted onion Allium lacunosum

Chinese houses Collinsia concolor

Sticky monkeyflower Mimulus aurantiacus

Pink sand verberna Abronia umbellatta

Dwarf rockcress Boechera parishii

Desert willow Chilopsis linearis

Goosefoot violet Viola purpurea

Mountain phlox Phlox austromontana

Cold desert phlox Phlox stanburyi

California flannelbush Fremontodendron californicum

Sandblossoms Linanthis parryae

Panamint mountain lupine Lupinus magnifricus

Bajada lupine Lupinus concinnus 

Stinging lupine Lupinus hirsutissimus

4 thoughts on “Flora of the PCT: Desert Wildflowers Part I

  1. These pictures are incredible! Thank you for sharing them! I love that you’re documenting all of these beautiful flowers during your journey. :) Did you have an interest in botany prior to the PCT?

    • Thank you so much! I do have some prior background in bontany. My degrees are in environmental sciences (not quite botany, but it did give me some experience), I’m a MI Master Gardner and have worked in landscaping.

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