Sadly, I believe the thick fields of wildflowers that made this area famous are a thing of the past, as this area has been taken over by the invasive species Sahara Mustard. Two weeks ago, these fields looked so promising, they were lush and green with new plant life thanks to a rainy winter – historically a perfect combination. But as I have now learned, the Sahara Mustard grows in sooner and faster then native plants, stealing moisture and blocking sunlight – effectively choking out the beautiful native plants. You can see in the bottom photo that a couple of Desert Golds managed to fight their way through the thick vegetation, but it is nothing like past years where there would be millions of such blooms.
This isn’t just a problem along Henderson Canyon Road, or Anza-Borrego – the Sahara Mustard has taken over large parts on the lower elevations of Southern California and continues to expand very rapidly. It seems inevitable that this plant will take over other amazing places like Death Valley – it is really sad. You can learn more about this invasive species here: Sahara Mustard.