With the Antelope Valley's annual Poppy Festival to be held this weekend on April 21-22, wildflowers are on the minds of local residents and more distant visitors alike.
At the onset of the spring season, the Antelope Valley often blooms with vibrant wildflowers, streaking the normally brown hills with various and quickly changing pops of color.
The wildflower most synonymous with the Antelope Valley is the California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), painting much the west side of Lancaster with bright orange every year. The wildflower bloom generally occurs from mid-March through early-May but varies widely each year depending on rainfall. Unfortunately, this year's bloom is small scale due to the late-season rains, but poppies can still be found scattered around the valley.
Past Antelope Valley residents were amazed by the wildflower blooms as well, with early Lancaster pioneers such as Myrtle "Myrtie" Webber and later Jane S. Pinheiro advocating for land conservation to preserve the beautiful natural landscape from impending development.
Due to Jane's efforts toward conservation, in cooperation with the Wildflower Preservation Committee and other individuals and organizations, the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve was designated as a natural preserve for the wildflowers in 1976. The Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve and the Jane S. Pinheiro Interpretive Center in west Lancaster now offer visitors a glimpse into the undeveloped desert, with winding trails traversing through fields of wildflowers.
Though the flowers are beautiful, visitors must remember to be mindful of the environment and are reminded not to step off-trail to avoid damaging the flowers. It is also against California State Law to remove any of the flowers from the ground on state property.