Sunday, April 23, 2017

Mexican Gold Poppy - 2017

In 2010, Judy and I traveled to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument ("OPCNM") in southern Arizona to see a spectacular Mexican gold poppy bloom. We have been experiencing severe drought since then, but the magnificent rains we experienced in late 2016 and early 2017 got me thinking about those gold poppies again and wondering if another great bloom might be in store this year. A great bloom only happens about every decade or so. 

Sam and I headed out to OPCNM in late February, early March, leaving a huge storm in Southern California and hoping for better weather in southern Arizona. Just the opposite happened, the storm where we live fizzled and we got nearly constant rain in the two days we spent in OPCNM. It was almost hard to believe how much rain was coming down in this parched corner of the world. 

We stopped at the Tillotson Peak Wayside and walked around on the amazingly soggy ground, ground that is normally rock hard. I found areas where the poppy plants were starting to grow, covering the ground, and a few were just starting to show their yellow flowers. It looked like it might be perfect in a week or two when the rain stopped and the weather started to warm up. Low 60s was as high as we experienced. 
The green carpeting the ground is Mexican gold poppies.
This closer view reveals a few yellow poppy flowers starting to unfurl. 
A closer view of one particular poppy plant. 
I decided to come back as soon as I could, but work and other commitments kept me from getting back again until early April. Things had dried out and the temperatures were in the low 90s. It looks as though I missed the main bloom, but I did capture some stragglers, most at the Tillotson Peak Wayside where I'd seen the plants earlier. 
The poppy plants have grown substantially and the ground was completely dried out again. 
The poppies were not covering the ground as heavily as they were when we visited earlier. I assume the heat had taken its toll on many of them. 
The Mexican gold poppy can vary from all yellow to very significant orange. There was less orange in these poppies than we found seven years ago, but they were still beautiful. 
These Mexican gold poppies are all yellow. 
These had a little bit of orange in them. 

I missed the main poppy bloom, but I did get some great cactus flowers that I'll share in later posts. 


  1. This is my favorite color of yellow--deep and rich and bordering on orange. I love the red centers.

  2. Still beautiful, even if you missed the main bloom. Maybe next year!