In the desert, a flood of purple and gold

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Swatches of purple desert lupine, orange globe mallows, Mexican gold poppies, and bright yellow brittlebush transform the rain-soaked Arizona desert into a Monet fantasy. After an especially wet fall and winter, the native plants have soaked up the excess water, making the Sonoran region look green and lush. The spectacle has lured visitors to the hiking trails of Arizona's local, state, and county parks, where they can admire the blossoms.

The desert blooms in stages. By mid-February, early risers like brittlebush, desert lupine, and Mexican gold poppies start showing their colors. By the end of March, the cactuses start to bloom, beginning with the bright-pink blossom of the strawberry hedgehog and followed by the cholla and prickly pear. By the end of April, the big saguaro begin their flowering cycle, which lasts well into summer.

Toward the end of May, the summer heat usually beats back most of the color - as well as all but the heartiest of hikers. Desert temperatures soar to over 110 degrees F. by mid-June.

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