A Parade of Poppies

A Parade of Poppies
A Parade of Poppies

A bright spot has emerged after California’s particularly wet and dreary winter: a sea of wildflowers in Southern California. In the western tip of the Mojave Desert, orange, gold, and yellow flowers have flooded the valleys and hills of Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve.

On April 7, 2023, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired the image above (left) of the valley. Bright golden-orange California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) are on full display with yellow California goldfields (Lasthenia californica), among other species of flowers.

On April 15, 2023, the Operational Land Imager-2 (OLI-2) on Landsat 9 captured another vibrant view of the bloom (right). By this time, the golden-orange poppies had faded in places, while canary yellow flowers in the upper left of the image pop out. The yellow flowers are surrounded by panels from a solar farm.

During the same week in April 2020, orange hues of the California poppy dominated images of the reserve. But in these views in 2023, a mosaic of orange and yellow is on display.

Although wildflowers make their appearance on these hills almost every spring, this year California is experiencing a larger “super bloom.” Much of California had a wetter-than-average winter, and this abundant precipitation fuels the large wildflower blooms.

NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Story by Emily Cassidy.

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