Northern Nevada Wildflowers Report: Wild Peonies, Phlox, and More

Splashes of wildflower color are appearing in the lower elevations of Northern Nevada. Professional photographer Patrick Wilkes saw this beautiful display of desert dandelions growing along Highway 95 between Yerington and Hawthorne, Nevada on Tuesday, May 17. 

Northern Nevada Wildflowers: Desert Dandelions
Desert Dandelions, Highway 95 near Hawthorne, 5-17-22, Patrick Wilkes

Here’s a roundup of some other Nevada wildflowers we’ve spotted recently and where you can find them.

Where The Wild Peonies Bloom

Northern Nevada Wildflowers: Wild Peony
Wild Peony, April 2022, Near Mud Lake, Gardnerville, Patrick Wilkes

It’s always a treat to see wild peonies (Paeonia brownii) blooming. I only spotted them because the leaves looked tropical and unlike anything else growing around the sagebrush. The blooms are hard to see unless you get up close to the plant because the flowers droop downward. 

Other than Paeonia californica, which some botanists consider a subspecies, Paeonia brownie is the only peony native to North America. It grows in the sagebrush scrub and in Jeffrey Pine forests in the mountains of Western Nevada.

Here are some places to find wild peonies in Nevada:

• There are a few wild peony plants on National Forest Service land above Mud Lake in Gardnerville, which usually bloom in April. 

• Wild peonies also grow in Reno near the Galena Creek Visitor Center and on the Hunter Creek Trail

More Northern Nevada Wildflowers

Monkey flowers(?) on the Fay Luther Trail, Gardnerville, 5-18-22, Kim Wilkes

Then there were these small fuchsia-colored flowers along the Fay Luther Trail in Gardnerville. They were blooming on May 18 on the Nevada side of the trail (From the Fay Luther trailhead, take the first right as if you’re headed to the Job’s Peak Ranch trailhead). They are probably monkey flowers. If you can definitely identify them please leave a comment to confirm their identity.

Desert Globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) brightened the shores of Walker Lake by Hawthorne, Nevada in early May.

Desert Globemallow, Walker Lake, Nevada, 5-4-22, Patrick Wilkes

Where to Find Wild Phlox in Nevada

Phlox, Fay Luther Trail, 4-17-22, Kim Wilkes

Last, but not least, we’ve seen phlox popping up all over. First in the Pine Nut Mountains earlier in the spring, then on the Fay Luther Trail. On the Fay Luther, head left and you’ll find a bunch of them growing on the hillside where the interpretive trail splits off and goes uphill. Those are at a GO NOW stage and will fade away soon. The same is true of the phlox that grow on the section of trail that leads to Job’s Peak Ranch. 

On the Fay Luther, you’ll find later blooming phlox (mid- to late May) if you hike farther up to the Grandview section of the trail and keep going straight uphill. Watch for them on the right. 

Another place to find Phlox? On the Mount Rose trail and at various places up at Tahoe including the Nevada side of the lake. Those will bloom a lot later in the season from June into July. 

Finally, Patrick spotted wild phlox blooming at Jack Wright Pass off Highway 208 west of Wellington, Nevada.

It’s a beautiful time of year to explore Northern Nevada!

4 thoughts on “Northern Nevada Wildflowers Report: Wild Peonies, Phlox, and More”

  1. I’ve never seen a wild peony! They might need more water than other wild flowers? Wondering if your “wild dandelions” are salsify? Lots to love in the high desert!

    1. Kimberly Wilkes

      Paula, you would think they need more water but the place that I see them is very dry, in the sagebrush, with no streams around. The desert dandelions aren’t salsify. Salsify has a lot bigger flower. We have salsify in our yard. Interesting fact: salsify is edible according to the edible plants of Nevada book.

  2. Another location with many wild peonies is the hillside behind Western Nevada College in Carson City.

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