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Wildflowers of the Kern River Preserve

Here are just a few of the recorded wildflower sightings over the past few years. This is not a complete listing as each year there are flowers throughout the summer and fall as well.

2011 - Rainfall total for 2010/2011 = 20.68 inches as of April 4, 2011 at Kernville Pumping Station (KRN).


27 April 2011

The flowers are still here but are very few in number. The rains were not spaced evenly enough and the dousing in December gave a good head start to the exotic grasses which have crowded out the wildflowers for the most part this year.

2 April 2011

Another wildflower walk along Fay Creek revealed a still reluctant bloom but areas are now carpeted with annual wooly sunflower. The first pygmy poppy is blooming along with many new annuals for the week; several species from the phlox family including evening snow, miniature gilia, Davy gilia, false giliflower and slender phlox. Owl's clover is beginning to dominate the cover climbing into the chaparral.

27 March 2011

In bloom along Sierra Way; spider lupine, globe gilia, brown-eyed primrose, bishop's lotus, floriferous monkeyflower, California poppy, thistle sage, Bigelow's tickseed, lacy phacelia, white fiesta flower.

The bloom is good along Old Kern Canyon Road between Hwy 178 and Borel Canyon Road.

26 March 2011

A blustery day in spring in the Kern River Valley is normal. What seems a little unusual is the late bloom this year. All along Fay Canyon the hills are hinting of a spectacular bloom of golden poppy on the hills of the Domeland Wilderness and Kern Plateau. Blooming along the creek are Sierra layia, annual wooly sunflower, scale bud, goldfields, California poppy. A few varieties of lupine including spider, miniature and silver are just beginning their bloom.

19 March 2011

Our annual wildflower walk for Living Green was preceded by an upland restoration work party. Ten people joined a walk around the Kern River Preserve headquarters and enjoyed the beginning of a promising wildflower year. Just a few flowers are beginning to bloom around the lawn, Fay Canyon and Migrant Corner along Sierra Way.

2010 - Rainfall total for 2009/2010 = 12.24 inches as of June 1, 2010 at Kernville Pumping Station (KRN).


17 March 2010

Saint Patrick's Day opened with carpets of green and orange. The hills above the preserve continue to glow with more and more poppies. Join Audubon on Sunday beginning at 8 a.m. on a wildflower walk in celebration of "Living Green".

12 March 2010

The cool weather continues but both Sierra Way and Fay Canyon have started blooming. California Poppies are the major flower with some coreopsis, filaree, and fiddleneck. Many more plants still are green but it should be a pretty good year. There are other plants blooming but the good show should be in a few weeks.

Although the forecast is for rain, we are looking for it to clear in time for our wildflower walk tomorrow, Saturday, March 13th beginning at 9 a.m. at the headquarters. We will convene at the headquarters, arrange carpools and immediately move out to the Sierra Way bridge area. As with all hikes on the preserve, please be prepared to walk on uneven terrain by wearing sturdy shoes. Wear a hat, bring water to drink, your binoculars and camera and enthusiasm. As with all organized walks on the preserve, no dogs please.

As the season matures, there should be little problem with the cool weather and rain, but a heat wave and high winds will be devastating to many of the flowers.

2009 - Rainfall total for 2008/09 = 8.59 inches at Kernville Pumping Station


The Fay Creek area is beginning to bloom nicely. Wallace's wooly sunflower and white layia are blooming well. Broad-flowered gilia, scalebud, California poppy and other species are scattered around.

Sierra Way is blooming along the roadside by the South Fork Kern bridge. Brown-eyed primrose, California poppy, popcorn flower, Bigelow's coreopsis, checker fiddleneck, globe gilia, spider lupine, miniature lupine, red maids, and Bishop's lotus all are blooming.

As of March 1st, at least 30 species of annual wildflowers are in bloom. The great show has not begun at Migrant Corner.

Beginning in January sparse blooms were found here and there. A 10" snowfall on December 15th helped with much needed moisture. It also snowed on Christmas Day but not enough to soak the ground. January was pretty dry, but February was a good month for rain.

2008 - Rainfall total for 2007/08 = 7.39 inches at Kernville Pumping Station

August 30 2008


Annual sunflowers are blooming along the roadsides and in the fields right now. Sacred Datura, Indian Tobacco, California Evening Primrose and Salt Heliotrope add splashes of white blooms among the bright yellow blossoms of Vinegar Weed.

March 22 2008

Thirteen people joined a tour up Sierra Way from the Kern River Preserve to above Riverkern. The hills of the Kern River Preserve at the Sierra Way bridge are full of globe gilia and spider lupine with smatterings of other plants. Along the Migrant Corner trail find red maids, Bigelow's coreopsis, Fremont's pincushion, brown-eyed primrose, checker fiddleneck, California poppy, popcorn flower, cream cups, floriferous monkeyflower, blue dicks, miniature lupine, bishop's lotus, caterpillar phacelia, slender keel fruit, scale bud, silver bird's foot trefoil.

March 15 2008

Today, with friends Don and Sandra in tow after a morning of upland restoration, we ventured out to the Kern River Preserve's migrant corner and Kelso Valley.

In the uplands of the Kern River Preserve's Sprague Ranch unit, we found man-root, popcorn flower, owl's clover, annual wooly sunflower, white layia, Bigelow's coreopsis, goldfields, checker fiddleneck, herb sophia, hoary-podded lens cress, London rocket, slender keel fruit, Bishop's lotus, miniature lupine, red-stemmed filaree, Fremont's phacelia, white fiesta flower, fiesta flower, common henbit, hill suncup, California poppy, golden poppy, slender gilia, showy gilia, slender phlox and blue dicks.

March 8 2008

Another day, another adventure with my friend Terri. The wind was howling but it didn't matter because the Kern River Valley has poppies! So many of the hills are green with the orange and yellow frosting of poppies and coreopsis. The best display of poppies is near the northern boundary of Audubon's Kern River Preserve just north of the South Fork bridge in Weldon. Almost the entire slope is full of brilliant orange California poppies with an occasional mutant yellow poppy thrown in for good measure. Along Sierra Way, between Weldon and Kernville, many wonderful plants are in bloom. Along the road, chia, scale bud, globe gilia, coreopsis, brown-eyed primrose, red maids, Bishop lotus, spider lupine and miniature lupine get more abundant each day.

February 27 2008

It has begun. Sierra Way in the Kern River Valley has begun to explode with color. Mostly California Poppy but other flowers are blooming as well. I just checked the area where the Kern River Preserve is bisected by Sierra Way and found the following in bloom north of the bridge and granite road cut: Globe Gilia, California Poppy, Red Maids, Chia, Bentham's Lupine, Red-stemmed Filaree, Bigelow's Coreopsis, Bishop's Lotus, Checker Fiddleneck and plants that should be in bloom by this weekend include, Brown-eyed Evening Primrose, Scale Bud, and Thistle Sage.

2007 - Rainfall total for 2006/07 = 6.83 inches

March 23 2007


This week the walk around the creek near my home was much more productive. Fay Creek is full of annual wooly sunflower and other species are beginning to make a relatively nice showing. The diminutive pygmy poppy is up along with Bigelow's monkeyflower, Fremont's phacelia, scale bud, Sierra tidytips, checker fiddleneck, tansy mustard, shepherd's purse, and filaree. Anyone wishing to see these flowers should contact me and I can arrange a tour for a small donation to the Kern River Preserve.

March 14 2007


A walk along Fay Creek yielded little in the way of flowers, but lots of little green patches hopefully will not dry out before they have a chance to bloom. My yard has blooming fiddleneck and a couple of species of mustard.

March 13 2007


Many species are blooming now along Sierra Way from the South Fork bridge to Rocky Point. I expect with the extended heat these will fade quickly. The numbers are not great anywhere so far. Species seen in bloom: brown-eyed evening primrose, California poppy, tansy mustard, checker fiddleneck, forget-me-not, false gilia, lacy phacelia, Bigelow's coreopsis, chia, globe gilia, bishop's lotus, blazing comet, red-stemmed filaree, spider lupine, and California goldfields.

2006 - Rainfall total for 2005/06 = 15.70 inches

27 June 2006


The word is white, many white flowers are in bloom on the ranch right now. Sprague Ranch flowers include, salt heliotrope, desert milkweed, sacred datura, California evening-primrose, yerba mansa, Indian tobacco, and prickly poppy. Large calabazilla are blooming across the landscape.

30 May 2006


It has been a while since I reported anything significant, that is not to say the bloom has been non-existent.

There have been some nice blooms of Clarkia along the Kern Canyon and Glennville roads.

Yesterday, on the Kern River Preserve, I found several plants in bloom and five new plants for the preserve plant list. Golden ear drops, Kern dwarf brodiaea, chaparral yucca, interior live oak, and branching phacelia.

2 Apr 2006

Kern River Preserve

A hike around the Sprague flood plain revealed more species in bloom, no really abundant displays but it is looking promising. Here is what I found including two questionable plants, see the April Wildflower photo page and see if anyone can figure out the one unknown which I haven't a clue it is a very tiny red plant next to granite, the possible Pale Primrose?, and all of the varieties of cryptantha. Here is my working list: Checker Fiddleneck, Bigelow's Coreopsis, Owl Clover, Common Wooly Sunflower, Wild Buckwheat, Miniature Lupine, Pygmy Poppy, Bishop Lotus, Broad-flowered Gilia, Goldfields, Silver Lupine, Popcorn Flower, Slender Keel Fruit, White Tidy-tips, Silver Puffs, Mediterranean Mustard, California Poppy, Shepherd's Purse, Red-stemmed Filaree, Scale Bud, and a few more mustard species not yet keyed.

3 Feb 2006


The alluvial fan out by Fay Creek has dozens annual wooly sunflower with thousands still in vegetative form and now several white layia are in bloom. My yard poppy is quite robust due to continuous water. Filaree are not quite as numerous as in past years. Wildlife is definitely feeling a spring burst of excitement. Lots of activity with herons, bluebirds, and jackrabbits right up to the house.

31 Jan 2006


I noticed a bloom on my poppy plant yesterday and two more today. Fiddleneck is starting to bloom and several mustards as well. Nothing popping in the wild unfortunately, there is some green but I am afraid that without some rain, the wildflower season here looks to be disappointing. I hope not. All indications are the strong La Nina will keep us dry and continue to soak points north.

17 Jan 2006


Took an interesting walk around the backyard of the ranch I care take. Well backyard is a misstatement since the backyard is around 4000 acres! I walked through the sagebrush flat up to the gray pine woodland and up the hill to the granite boulder laced grassland, I found several plants already blooming but really quite sparse and only in wind protected areas. The species in bloom included: annual wooly sunflower, bush monkeyflower, red-stemmed filaree, Acton's encelia, and oak gooseberry.

2005 - Rainfall total for 2004/05 = 22.22 inches

12 March 2005


The show at the Kern River Preserve continues. Lupines are thick along the slopes near the South Fork bridge. California poppy, coreopsis, thistle sage and chia are pretty thick up at the higher elevations on the slope. Further down the road the bloom is at the roadside. Flowers observed blooming today, desert pincushion, dandelion, Bigelow's coreopsis, Wallace's wooly sunflower, brittlebush, Acton's encelia, scalebud, desert dandelion, goldfields, pineapple weed, common groundsel, tansy mustard, London rocket, peppergrass, shepherd's purse, slender keel fruit, popcorn flower, checker fiddleneck, cow clover, miniature lupine, bajada lupine, spider lupine, bishop's lotus, silver bird's foot trefoil, stork'sbill filaree, oak gooseberry, white fiesta flower, caterpillar phacelia, henbit, thistle sage, wild hyacinth, white-stem blazing star, Kern sun cup, brown-eyed evening primrose, cream cups, California poppy, slender phlox, bird's eye gilia, globe gilia, red maids, common chickweed, miner's lettuce, bird's eyes, granite monkeyflower, California figwort, evening snow and desert tomato.

This list was from memory as there were dozens of people that accompanied me on a little wildflower walk on the preserve. This walk was part of a series of monthly walks with a variety of local experts. Next month we will have workshop on "What is a watershed?", the walks/workshops are free and run from 9-11 am.

7 March 2005


Throughout the Kern Canyon and in the Kern Valley hilltops are displaying waves of orange from California poppies. Some yellow is also interspersed from Bigelow's Coreopsis. Through the canyon some yellow from a small aster that resembles goldfields is causing a gentle yellow and lime green appearance to some of the slopes. Many mixed displays of flowers throughout the entire area are really giving a mixed bouquet look to the roadsides.

1 March 2005


The Sierra Way flower show continues to accelerate. A heat wave and I expect the entire area to start going nuts. I walked Migrant Corner trail and found many new flowers. I did not photograph the granite monkeyflower or the purple mat. I have posted most of the other photos on the wildflower page. Other new flowers, Evening Snow, Yellowthroats in Kelso Valley, Thistle Sage.

8 Feb 2005


I did a more thorough check along Sierra Way near the South Fork bridge. I found some nice blooms of coreopsis far up the hill. Good thing my friend Terri lent me a cane for the bum knee, I was able to slowing creep up the hill. The California poppies were closed but this subspecies is the Kernville Poppy, it has really huge blossoms and is beautiful even closed, I look forward to seeing it on a warmer day. New for today were miniature lupine and cow clover. Caterpillar phacelia is blooming in a few places along with white fiesta flower. Lots of globe gilia, some chia, lots of spider lupine, lots of Bishop's lotus, some popcorn flower and one silver lupine.

6 Feb 2005


A quick check along Sierra Way as the sun was setting. Near the South Fork bridge, the slope on the Kern River Preserve had several dozen Bigelow's Coreopsis in bloom. First of the season California poppy. Other species at this location, globe gilia, brown-eyed evening primrose, chia. Further up the road toward Kernville, several locations had coreopsis, clover, filaree, globe gilia, popcorn flower. Spotty distribution but there are some display locations in the beginning stages.

31 Jan 2005


Although not in abundance yet... I saw several species of wildflowers blooming along Sierra Way near the South Fork bridge in the Kern River Valley. Along the decomposed granite wall overlooking the northwest edge of the South Fork forest blooming plants. Brown-eyed evening primrose, Bigelow's coreopsis, chia, spider lupine, globe gilia, and filaree.

2004 - Rainfall total for 2003/04 = 8.62 inches

18 Mar 2004

The Kern River Valley is busting a gut trying to get the blooms out. While the scenes are patchy, it looks to be a very good wildflower season ahead. California poppies and coreopsis are showing spots several acres in size near the summit of many of the dry hills along the South Fork Kern near the Kern River Preserve. Fay Canyon is in the beginning stages of a grand show. Hopefully the heat won't wilt everything.

14 Mar 2004

In the Kern River Valley along Sierra Way new blooms continue. The Hanning Flat display of filaree has all but disappeared. The roadside above Stine and Robinson Coves have some nice color.

The Kern River Preserve from Sierra Way to the overlook of the South Fork forest has several abundant showings of coreopsis and poppies. The trail next to the river has several plants in bloom but no real spectacular shows.

High on the hillsides above Fay Creek Rd., Sierra Way, and Weldon's Short Canyon large areas are blooming with poppies.

12 Mar 2004

In the Kern River Valley, Sierra Way from Weldon to just north of the Kern County line appears to be the hotspot of wildflower activity so far. I noticed the first thistle sage on the hill above Migrant Corner trail (Sierra Way bridge over the South Fork Kern) on the Kern River Preserve.

Poppies are littering the hillside with their blaze of orange, some good landscape shots are available sporadically along the road. Lupine, chia, globe gilia, white fiesta flower, brown-eyed evening primrose, Bigelow's coreopsis, popcorn flower, Kernville poppy, filaree, caterpillar phacelia, and owl's clover are all blooming. The most numerous flower by far is filaree.

2003 - Rainfall total for 2002/03 = 14.88 inches

1 MARCH 2003

From Alison Sheehey: Kelso Valley Rd.: White Layia - Layia glandulosa, Kern Monkeyflower - Mimulus shevockii Bird Spring Pass Rd. Phacelia, Goldfields, Sinuate Gilia - Gilia sinuata, Bird's Eyes - Gilia tricolor
From Alison Sheehey: Sierra Way, between Kernville and Weldon, Kern Valley: new flowers: Wright's Deer Vetch - Lotus wrightii, Clover - Trifolium sp. All others continue to bloom well. South Lake, Kern Valley: Goldenbush - Ericameria linearifolia, Evening Snow - Linanthus dichotomus

20 FEBRUARY 2003

From Alison Sheehey: The Kern Valley (Lake Isabella) in Kern County has one spot that really is beginning to explode. Wildflowers are really blooming well on Sierra Way between Kernville and Weldon (Hwy 178).
California Poppy - Eschscholzia californica, Perennial Aster - Asteraceae, Storksbill Filaree - Erodium cicutarium, Chia - Salvia columbariae, Owl's Clover - Castilleja exserta, Tropidocarpum - Tropidocarpum gracile, Lupine - Lupinus sp., Caterpillar Phacelia - Phacelia tanacetifolia, School Bells - Dichelostemma capitatum, Goldfields - Lasthenia californica, Stick Leaf - Mentzelia sp., Apiaceae - Lomatium sp., Miniature Lupine - Lupinus sp., Popcorn Flower - Plagiobothrys sp., Fiddleneck - Amsinkia sp., Thistle Sage - Salvia carduacea, Annual Aster - Asteraceae, Brown-eyed Evening Primrose - Camissonia claviformis ssp. claviformis, Mustard - Brassicaceae, White Fiesta Flower - Pholistoma membranaceum, Globe Gilia - Gilia capitata

Kern River Preserve in Weldon, California. Open every day of the year from dawn to dusk. Support our efforts to protect the South Fork Kern, join Audubon Kern River Preserve.

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