It’s always a treat to see the desert peaches (Prunus andersonii) start blooming in northwestern and central Nevada and eastern California. They’re some of my favorite wildflowers of Nevada. From late March until mid-April they brighten up the desert landscape with their cheerful pink blooms.
Some of these Northern Nevada wildflowers are a lighter pink color.
Others are a more intense, darker pink.
The red stamens in the center add to the plant’s beauty.
You’ll find these wildflowers in Northern Nevada growing along with sagebrush, rabbitbrush, and bitterbrush—in other words, in a desert landscape. Desert peaches can grow from three to 10 feet. They’re a member of the rose family, and belong to the same genus as the peach, cherry, and almond trees.
How Did Desert Peach Get Its Name?
Desert peach gets it common name from the fruits it sprouts later in the summer. They’re fuzzy red and orange and look just like miniature peaches!
Native Americans ate the fruit. However, be cautious because the seed of the fruit is high in cyanide and in larger quantities the fruit may be toxic. If it’s especially bitter that’s a warning sign not to eat it.
In years when there’s a lot of moisture, the fruit is fleshy. During drought years, it’s been described as mummified.
Won’t Win Beauty Contests in the Winter
Although desert peaches are some of the most stunning of Nevada desert wildflowers, during the fall, desert peaches lose their leaves. They’re not the prettiest of plants during this time when the thorn-like spikes along their stems are highly visible.
The rest of the year they have oval or lance-shaped leaves.
An Interesting Fact about Desert Peaches
Gaze out over an acre or two or three of desert peaches and you’re likely looking at clones of the parent plant. Although they can germinate through seeds, they often spread by rhizomes. The plant sends up shoots from the rhizomes to form a large clone that can spread over several acres.
Sounds a lot like aspen trees, although aspens spread over much larger distances.
Nevada Wildflowers Report – Desert Peaches
You’ll find desert peaches growing and blooming in the following places in Nevada:
• Fay Luther Trail, Gardnerville, Nevada – Find these wildflowers in Nevada from the Fay Luther trailhead to around the first quarter mile of the trail (these will be blooming in about 7 – 10 days around April 11, 2022) and are on the lighter pink side.
You’ll find desert peaches that have a darker, more intense pink color if you take the first right on the Fay Luther Trail (the section that leads to the Job’s Peak Ranch trailhead). These bushes are about ready to bloom in the next couple of days by around April 6, 2022 or so. They should last at least a week, maybe 10 days.
• Water Tower Hill, Gardnerville – The lighter pink bushes in front of what we call the monoliths (a cluster of large rocks) are already blooming. The ones near the third water tower are just about there. Hiking along the trail past the third water tower, the desert peaches growing in the valley next to the trail are probably around 7 days away.
This area is located on the outskirts of the Gardnerville Ranchos neighborhood off of Tilman Lane where the road leaves the pavement behind. Be careful of people shooting as it’s a popular area for target practice. The trail up to the monoliths is on the left. Look for the cluster of large rocks up on the hill. You’ll also find desert peaches along the road leading up to the two main water towers.
• Carson Valley – Desert peaches grow among the sagebrush, bitterbrush and other vegetation surrounding the Carson Valley towns of Minden, Gardnerville, and Genoa. Keep your eyes peeled as the plants should be blooming within the next week, by April 11 or so.
• Pyramid Lake – This is on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Native American reservation, so you’ll need a permit. Please abide by all regulations to protect this beautiful area. It’s been a little over a week since Patrick has been over there so we don’t have a current report but they usually bloom right about now.
• Eureka and Nye Counties. According to the U.S. Forest Service, desert peaches have made their way this far east. We haven’t been out there to report on exactly where and when the desert peaches there will bloom, but they should be bursting into flower soon. If you’ve traveled to this area and have seen the peaches in bloom, please post in the comments a good place to view them.
Have you seen desert peaches other places in Nevada? Post in the comments where you’ve encountered these plants or send us an email with photos to [email protected]