Poppies in bloom in December?

We’ve typically visited AZ in the spring to watch baseball, etc and I’ve always taken as many opportunities as possible to hike and for photography. We have recently bought a vacation condo in Phoenix and will be spending more time here (although not “snowbirding” in the traditional sense). I’ve shot wild poppies in the southern part of AZ in late March, but while visiting our vacation place this week, I spotted poppies in bloom in the Sonoran Preserve in the northern part of Phoenix.
Is this early for them to be in bloom, or is it normal? It strikes me as early, but my knowledge is limited to my visits here being limited to one time of the year, and to my experiences at home in Colorado, where not much blooms until late May or June.
Can anyone help me with the time frame of wildflower blooms in AZ?

I can’t help you myself, Bob, but being interested in wildflowers, I’ve spent time with the Washington Native Plant Society, and there’s an equivalent in Arizona, including of course a Phoenix chapter. I’m sure they’d be a wonderful resource including locations.

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Not really an answer to your question, but it’s not uncommon to see a few blooming California poppies in San Francisco in January. Of course, peak bloom is much later.

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Can’t help ya there but I do love the colors and focus

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In my experience it’s driven as much by rain patterns as month, unless you’ve got a cold snap happening at the same time. In my experience growing up 5 hours south and east of Phoenix plants can be short-lived and pretty well adapted to blossoming the moment they get moisture rather than waiting around for changes in photo period. This site may be very helpful to you in anticipating blooms on future visits. There are other similar sites to check, but I don’t recall them at the moment.

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This book by @Colleen_Miniuk and Paul Gill is a fantastic resource http://www.wildinarizona.com/

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Hi @Bob_Falcone! It is two-to-three months early for the blooms here in Arizona. Those of us who have been tracking the blooms aren’t exactly sure why. We’ve had bountiful rain “at the right time” (meaning October through December), thanks to the early onset of an El Nino weather pattern. Typically, this triggers the blooms of annuals like the Mexican Gold and California poppies in mid-to-late February through the end of March (peak depends on the elevation and location within the state). We haven’t been overly warm (in fact, we’ve maybe been on the cold side) or sunny (lots of clouds this fall and winter). We’ve been on the brink of frost/freeze warnings here in Phoenix, which can stop annual blooms in their tracks…the perennials are a bit hardier and seem to get through it OK.

The desert bloom timing is definitely wonky, though, as we’ve been seeing brittlebush, fairy dusters, marigolds, poppies, scorpionweed, etc. around Phoenix for almost the last month. We honestly have no idea what will happen when all of this is supposed to bloom. We hope not the apocalypse! LOL! In the 45+ years of Paul Gill’s and my combined experience with monitoring the wildflowers in Arizona, we’ve never seen anything like this.

Overall, Arizona typically blooms February to the end of September depending on the elevation…places like Flagstaff will follow the timing of a higher elevation bloom like what Colorado experiences.

Thanks @David_Kingham for the shout out on my “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflower, A Guide to When, Where, & How” guidebook. It was a great kick in the pants for me to (finally) submit my eBooks to the NPN Marketplace, which I did this afternoon, in hopes of sharing our knowledge and experience with others. We hope it gets people WILD about wildflowers!

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I’ve got the book and it’s awesome! Unfortunately, while I was in Phoenix, it was in Colorado!

Thanks Colleen! I was hoping you’d see this and reply. Of course, I do have your book, but I didn’t have it with me.
Usually we visit AZ in March and April and I kinda know what to look for, but we recently bought a small condo in Phoenix, hence the visit in December. I was a little surprised at the amount of wildflowers I saw, figuring that even with the mild year-round weather there, every thing must still have a season. The poppies were definitely a bit of a surprise.
The wildflowers here in CO have also been thrown out of whack, mostly directly attributable to our persistently perennial drought. Last winter we had very little snow below 10,000’, so the early season, low elevation flowers (cacti, lilies, iris, paintbrush etc) were very few and far between. Some of my usually reliable spots for flowers had absolutely nothing. But the late season, high elevation flowers were abundant, with some like the larkspur growing to heights over 5’ tall.
Go figure.
I’ll be back down there in March and April…should be interesting to see what’s in bloom then.