■ Matt McPherson / Columnist
As many have noticed and subsequently published on their social media, the hills are alive with color. The south facing slopes are prominent with bright orange California Poppies and accented with dark purple California Bluebells, and contrasting varieties of lavender Lupine flowers. Along the mountains north of the San Jacinto valley, below the S and stretching from Soboba to Massacre Canyon is a gorgeous display of orange bands of poppies punctuated by a healthy unbroken backdrop of emerald greens and luscious purples. The brilliant flowing hills of California Poppies are so alluring along Interstate 15 between Lake Elsinore and Corona, the CHP had to issue a warning statement to drivers who stopped along the freeway to view them.
Diamond Valley Lake and its seasonal wildflower trail has been full of nature seekers taking pictures and documenting their experience on Facebook. Simpson Park and its wide ranging bio-diversity has bounced back with a large assortment of rare native blooms accented by flowing Yerba Santa, Chamise, Buckwheat and Manzanita. As the summer progresses a magnificent show of Yucca Whipplei and Yucca Schidigera will emphasize the amount of rain received this year. Polly Butte and the foothills of the San Jacinto Valley pushing east and south persist in reemerging from the dry spell that plagued the region for more than a decade.
Massacre Canyon and its breathtaking waterfalls persevere in renewing the canyons and valley below with an assortment of life. Lake Hemet also is proceeding toward a healthy water level, with elevations at the lake rising considerably every week. The San Jacinto Wildlife area and the mysterious Mystic Lake shores advances forward, attracting tens of thousands of migratory birds and helps to replenish the water table throughout the region.
Some other areas that are experiencing this colorful floral show are Anza-Borrego Desert, which has reported one of the most brilliant blooms in its history, highlighting the desert lily (Hesperocallis undulata), desert sunflowers, desert evening primrose, and desert dandelion. The Santa Rosa Plateau and its vernal pools are teeming with life and will provide a beautiful backdrop this spring and summer for all the outdoor enthusiasts and hikers it attracts.
Up in the San Jacinto Mountains above Idyllwild lies Hidden Lake, which provides one of the few environments for the Hidden Lake bluecurls. Due to the extreme drought over the last decade, the flower was on the verge of extinction. All the snow and rain this year led to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife requesting comments, and it resulted in a notice to remove the San Jacinto Mountain native flower from the threatened and endangered list. Trichostema austromontanum ssp compactum is the genus, species, and subspecies of the local plant, which was placed on the threatened species list back in September of 1998.
The south facing slopes will continue to flourish and bloom throughout the spring and into the early summer. The length of time for the blooms depends on the steady supply of precipitation that continues to bless our very eager Southern California countryside. As we get closer to summer and the sun rises in the sky, the north facing slopes and canyons will join the show with more stunning displays of color, followed by the succulents, cacti, and yucca, which will bloom throughout the summer and into the fall.