Moonflowers of Zion
The high temperatures, limited rain, and drying winds of the desert can present a harsh environment for wildflowers. These unforgiving conditions make the abundance of Zion’s wildflowers seem even more spectacular, set against a backdrop of towering sandstone cliffs.
Large, delicate flowers like the sacred datura (Datura wrightii) and Bridge’s evening primrose (Oenothera longissima), which wilt in the heat of the day, bloom at night in cooler temperatures. Others, like the datil yucca (Yucca baccata), have flower petals with a waxy coating. A waxy coating, or cuticle, allows the petal to retain water and withstand the drying heat. Still other desert survivors, like elkweed (Swertia radiata), bloom in the high elevation of Zion’s plateaus where the temperatures are cooler and rains are more frequent.
Wherever you find them, the wildflowers of Zion National Park give you the feeling you’ve stumbled upon a secret treasure, an extra splash of color in the dry, red rock desert.