U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
|Needles Field Office|
The beauty and abundance of native wildflowers of the Needles Field Office was impressive even to the earliest explorers and settlers, and the early letters sent back to the coast, Spain, and other European countries often made reference to the variety of plants and of the desert areas and their uses. Although during the Homestead Act days land was cleared for crops, what little trees that existed were cut for fuel and shelter, and many plants were gathered by the settlers for food, medicine, and dye, with such vast lands and so few inhabitants, there was probably little change in the native flora for more than two centuries after settlers moved in. At first, neither the few weeds that were doubtless established at an early date in the fields nor the few plants intentionally introduced for horticultural or agricultural purposes that escaped and became naturalized, posed any threat to the established native plants.
During the past century, however, the tremendous increase in population and the more rapid and extensive clearing of the desert and other changes of the surface of the earth by man has had a profound effect on our native vegetation. This is especially true in the case of many of the more showy species collectively known as "Wild Flowers". Because of their delicately balanced adaptation to very specific natural environments, many wild flowers cannot grow in habitats that have been altered or disturbed, nor can they compete with the plants of the more weedy introduced species that rapidly invade the vast areas of land opened or altered by the machines of man for roads, farms, dwellings, or cities. Each year a few new plants are either intentionally or unintentionally introduced into our flora. In this changing balance of nature, some native species of plants, once relatively frequent, are now quite rare, and some introduced species, once rare, are now widespread and common. Thus the balance continues to shift so that today many of our most attractive native plants are near extinction except within the boundaries of the parks, natural areas, and gardens set aside for the preservation of interesting natural habitats and their associated plant and animal species.
The Needles Field Office comprises of about 3.5 million acres of very diverse plant habitats. A few of the plant communities found within the Field Office are sagebrush scrub, pinyon-juniper, Joshua tree woodland, creosote bush scrub, and alkali sink.
Wildflower displays occur in the spring following wet, mild winters, and in late summer following the summer thunderstorms. Generally, the spring bloom is the most spectacular and draws many visitors to the desert. Visit our wildflower page!