Image of yellow bell flowers
Yellow bells ( Fritillaria pudica )

During the spring and early summer months a great variety of wildflowers are in bloom at the monument. Despite the rugged conditions and poor soil, many of these plants flourish, if only for a few weeks. While peak wildflower season will vary from year to year, there are long term trends that we have observed. Below is an average year's trend.

Sheep Rock Unit:

Flowers in the Sheep Rock Unit tend to spread over a wider area than at the other two units.

Late May - July: Mariposa lilies (Calochortus macrocarpus), orange globe mallow (Sphaeralcea munroana), buckwheat (Eriogonum sphaerocarpa), purple sage (Salvia dorrii), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), prairie clover (Petalostemon sp.), larkspur (Delphinium sp.), and blazing star (Mentzelia laevicaulis).

August – October: rabbit brush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus), western goldenrod (Solidago occidentalis), hoary aster (Machaeranthera canescens), snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae) and gumweed (Grindelia nana).

Clarno Unit:

April – May: Grass widow (Sisyrinchium inflatum), lomatium (Lomatium hendersonii), and prairie star (Lithophragma bulbifera) yellow bell (Fritillaria pudica) and red stem filaree (Erodium cicutarium).

Mid-May: Prairie rocket (Erysimum asperum), prairie clover (Petalostemon sp.) and larkspur (Delphinium sp.)

Late June: Mariposa lilies (Calochortus macrocarpus) and common sunflowers (Helianthus annuus).

August - October: Rabbit brush (Chrysothamnum nauseosus) and snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae).

Painted Hills Unit:

Wildflower season at the Painted Hills Unit varies dramatically from year to year. Some years flowers are plentiful; some years there are virtually none. Some years are in-between, where rainfall conditions may nourish some flowers, but dry up before others have a chance to flourish.

Late April -May: Bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva), hedgehog cactus (Pediocactus simpsonii), golden bee plant (Cleome platycarpa), and chaenactis (Chaenactis douglasii)

July: Prickly pear (Opuntia polyacantha) and common sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) usually peak in mid-July

August – October: Rabbit brush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus) and snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae)

Learn More About the Plants At John Day Fossil Beds

Last updated: April 9, 2020

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Kimberly, OR 97848


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