A ‘Superbloom’ in the Mohave’s Antelope Valley

April 28, 2023

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PhotographerRay Boren 

Summary Author: Ray Boren 

When moisture is bountiful and other conditions are amenable, the Mojave Desert grasslands and hills of Southern California’s Antelope Valley, west of the inland city of Lancaster, produce a so-called wildflower “superbloom,” as illustrated in the first image here, taken on April 10, 2023, on plains near the California Poppy Reserve.

The high desert area, at an elevation of 2600-3000 feet (792-914 meters), is a fertile range for California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), the state flower, as well as other wildflowers, such as yellow California goldfields (Lasthenia californica), featured in the second photo, in support of a blossoming pair of orange-yellow poppies. Other prominent flowers often include the paintbrush known as purple owl’s clover (Castilleja exserta), and various types of lupine, according to the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The intensity of the bloom varies year to year, but the mix can create a fragrant and astonishing carpet of color in the most vibrant seasons.

The reserve’s interpretive center is named for Jane Seymour Pinheiro (1907-1978), a self-taught artist and botanist who moved to Antelope Valley with her husband Joseph in 1940. Her watercolor paintings of desert flowers and plants, some of which hang in the facility, are admired for their detail and botanical accuracy. She spear-headed efforts to protect the native plant life, leading to establishment, in 1976, of the California Poppy Reserve, as well as other sanctuaries and parks.


Antelope Valley, California Coordinates: 34.7514, -118.2523

Related Links:

Carrizo Plain National Monument in Bloom (May 20, 2019)


Anza-Borrego’s Rocky Backbone (May 17, 2017)