Oficial City Flower
Desert Sunflower (Geraea canescens)
Adopted in 1975 by City Council

Check out the Desert wildflowers along Rancho Mirage hiking trails

Rancho Mirage trails offer easy to moderate hikes and the opportunity to take time to smell many desert wildflowers along the way. The number of different plants growing in the desert can sometimes surprise visitors. When rain falls, the porous sand and gravel on the surface allow water to go deeper. Desert wildflowers take hold and bloom due to the moisture held down below.

Desert wildflowers provide a spectrum of colors

It’s often difficult to predict which wildflowers will bloom and when. It’s not just a matter of having a good rain.  The right mixture of temperature, sun and wind also play a part.

As you make your way along trails, here are just some of the flowers you may encounter.

Bladderpod:  Named for the round seed pods on the plant, this may bloom at any time throughout the year. The plant grows approximately 20 to 78 inches and the ends of the stem branches produce a cluster of bright yellow flowers. Some people say the foliage smells like bell peppers.



California evening primrose: This grows low to the ground and emits a fragrance that can be detected from several feet away. The white flower opens up in the evening to 3 inches in diameter and has a yellow center that fades to a pink as it withers.



Cheesebush: This name comes from the distinctive odor. Does it smell like cheese where you are hiking? Then this bush, which can grow as tall as eight feet, is likely nearby. With thin branches and narrow, needlelike leaves, the bush can become covered in white or yellow flowers.




Desert lavender: The calming scent of this plant is unmistakable. Growing four to eight feet tall and often as wide as 3 feet, the small blue-lavender blooms pop out from gray foliage that is soft to the touch and more fragrant when crushed.



Encelia: Also known as California brittlebush, this shrub is part of the daisy family. Tiny yellow flowers emit a fragrance much like that of a freshly mowed lawn and it is noticeable from many feet away.


Western Forget-Me-Not: Although there is little or no scent from this plant during the day, they can be very fragrant in the evening and at night. The desert tortoise, the largest of all California desert reptiles, especially loves to dine on the little white or blue flowers and can actually eat a plant down to ground level.


Palo Verde: Although this is a tree and not a wildflower, The Palo Verde are currently in full bloom. There are two types of Palo Verde: the Foothills Palo Verde (with a yellow-green trunk and tiny leaves) and the Blue Palo Verde (with a blue-green trunk and larger leaves). While it is Arizona’s state tree, both types can be found in the California desert. Both species have edible flowers. The Foothills Palo Verde can live a century and some have lived up to 400 years.

Desert wildflowers off the trail

The gardens at The Living Desert showcase all these native plants as well as thousands more. In addition to many different wildflowers growing in the California desert, visitors can find more than 1,400 different species of plants that grow in the harsh conditions of the world’s other deserts, especially the arid regions of North America and Africa.

Visitors heading to the Palm Spring Aerial Tramway will also find a very pretty welcome as desert wildflowers such as encelia (brittlebush) are in bloom along Tram Road.