Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Nature Watch: "Orcutt's woody aster"


Last updated 2/11/2022 at 11:14am

Ernie Cowan

Orcutt's Woody Aster blooming in Fish Creek

Without more rain, and soon, the Motherlode of a wildflower Superbloom may not happen, but there are still nuggets to be found.

Hikers willing to explore the pockets and alcoves of the desert are likely to discover some of the hidden treasure just waiting to be found.

One of those treasures is blooming now in the more arid parts of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

In the nearly barren badlands surrounding Fish Creek, travelers may come across the showy Orcutt's woody aster.

Limited in range that extends generally from Palm Springs to the U.S.-Mexican Border and from the Mountains, east to Salton Sea, this perennial plant is one of the more colorful wildflowers of the region. Flowers are large, measuring two to three inches in size with as many as 40 pastel-lavender to blue petals, surrounding a center cluster of bright yellow seeds.

These are early blooming wildflowers, often showing up as early as November and continuing through April when there is enough spring rainfall.

The bright green leaves are lance-shaped with distinctive spines along edges. This is a fast-growing plant that can grow up to five feet tall in ideal conditions.

The aster is an important host for several species of butterflies and moths, including the sagebrush checkerspot. For this reason, it is a popular home landscape plant in arid environments as well as being frequently used in bee and butterfly gardens.

The Orcutt's woody aster is blooming now and just waiting for your discovery.

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