Some of the first wildflowers of spring are showing up in Saguaro National Park west of Tucson — never mind that it’s still more than a month until the official end of winter.
Early bloomers include yellow, purple-blue and white flowers, but so far they are appearing only in small numbers here and there along some park roads and trails. It’s by no means a widespread bloom — yet.
“I think the perennial wildflowers might do better than annuals this year,” said John Wiens, nursery horticulturist at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum west of Tucson. “The rains got a late start, and perennials react well to late rains.”
Wiens said he saw some species that appeared about to bloom in the Tortolita Mountains northwest of Tucson last weekend.
“On shady slopes, I saw things like wild onions, and blue dicks were up but not yet blooming,” he said.
Among the species spotted this week were yellow bladderpod mustard blooms, purple-blue verbena and yellow brittlebush.
Wiens and Mark Dimmitt, a wildflower expert and retired director of natural history at the Desert Museum, said the outlook is uncertain for some of the most showy annual wildflowers such as gold poppies and purple-blue lupines.
“After this hot spell, we need another good rain or else the annuals will bolt while small and not make much of a show,” Dimmitt said.