The prickly poppy is one of the most conspicuous wildflowers around - with large white petals and an eye-popping yellow center.  It's leaves and stems are covered with sharp bristles, and it is often found along roadsides.
Prickly poppy (Argemone pleiacantha)

D. Dougall - NPS

Wildflowers in bloom are a rare and beautiful sight in the desert regions of the southwest. Since many flowering plants are annuals, they only appear when rainfall and temperatures are just right - meaning that it's hard to say when or if there might be wildflowers blooming. During ideal times, when moisture is high and temperatures are appropriate, the deserts can be blanketed in flowers. This usually occurs in April or May in the southeastern part of Arizona. If you happen to be in the right place at the right time, you may see an unforgettable display of color.

There are also many blooming perennial plants that live here, and although they may not be quite as showy, they can be depended on to bloom in all but the driest of years. These are the plants that provide the staples for desert dwelling insects, birds and animals, many of whom rely on pollen, nectar or fruits to survive the dry summer months. These hardy plants, such as the agave, rabbitbrush, yucca, many species of cacti, and others, including shrubs and trees, tend to bloom each year, even when conditions are too dry for the annual wildliflowers. They also bloom for longer periods of time, and often into the hottest summer months and late fall, providing a colorful show for visitors from early spring until October or November.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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