Every state has a flower, and California’s is the mesmerizing orange California poppy.
Annually, these beautiful wildflowers open in massive drifts across the state. In an area of the Mojave Desert, there’s an especially beautiful annual bloom called, fittingly, the superbloom.
The wildflower superbloom (which is made up of a whole range of wildflowers, not just poppies) lasts just three or four months before the arid desert summer takes over. Still, the brief period of time when the poppies are alive is truly spectacular.
People come from all over the world to see it in action. They also come to take selfies.
There’s nothing wrong with capturing the moment, but many people seem to be using the superbloom flowers as a backdrop for their own personal fashion shoots.
We’d all like to hope that encountering a rare pink dolphin or a perfect quivering poppy would be a moment of reverence, but a few bad apples are ruining the experience for everyone.
A florist and environmentalist named Yasmine recently posted photos of damaged areas of the superbloom to her Instagram as a warning of what can happen when people don’t respect nature.
A florist named Yasmine Mei recently took to Instagram with a dire warning for all the “nature lovers” trampling the superbloom flowers in pursuit of the perfect selfie.
Her photos shows a cluster of the signature California poppies, with a giant flattened circle of grass in the middle — evidently where someone sprawled out to capture a perfect selfie.
Her powerful image of the marred beauty of the superbloom received thousands of likes on Instagram, but it deserves even more attention.
In the caption accompanying the photo, she writes:
See the large spot where there are no poppies? Look closely.
You’ll notice that there were poppies (probably a few days ago), but they were crushed, likely by someone who wanted to get an Instagram photo sitting in a field of flowers.
Every time I see a sight like this, I’m disheartened.
Pictured above, a young woman sprawling in the poppies for a picture. Yasmine continues:
To those hoping to photograph these beautiful, delicate, California natives, stick to the paths.
Loving nature means respecting it.
P.S. I’m sure that people who have rolled around in California poppies were unaware of the damage they were causing — damage that could last a few years (that’s according to CA parks service, I’m not just pulling information out of thin air) — so this is a cautionary tale for those who are planning a poppy adventure soon.
The California Parks Department does indeed back up Yasmine’s words.
On the webpage for the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, the park that is home to the most consistent superbloom, officials have laid out guidelines and cautionary words to would-be models and collectors:
Going off of the trails to walk in the poppies crushes the plants and may result in a ticket.
DO NOT step off the official trail where others have already damaged plants or there is only bare dirt; it will compound the damage and leave a scar for years to come.
No dogs, bikes, drones, or picking flowers.
Elsewhere, the Parks department notes that, “ALL the flowers in the park are protected; picking them is illegal and you may be cited for each flower damaged.”
That’s because picking a poppy doesn’t just kill that individual flower, it also causes the head of the flower to wilt, preventing it from scattering its seeds even if it is discarded.
In other words, a sight like the one above is only possible if the flowers are allowed to shed their seeds naturally, to perpetuate the bloom.
For the moment, very few people seem to be observing the strict rules in place at the Poppy Reserve; the above is just a snippet of Instagram photos recently snapped in the park.
Despite the multitude of warnings in person and at the park, people continually pick the flowers, walk off the trail, bring their dogs, and even park vehicles on top of the poppies.
Dogs in particularly are banned because they don’t know better than to squash the poppies, because there are rattlesnakes in the fields, and because people occasionally try to leave them in the parking lot.
The website notes, “Animals cannot be left alone in cars; there is no shaded parking and vehicles quickly heat to fatal temperatures.”
Beauty like this is too spectacular to be damaged by tourists who have no idea how badly they are hurting the wildlife, so we’re hoping to get the word out there.
We aren’t naming any names, but social media is still full of beautifully dressed nature lovers posing in fields of poppies, probably completely unaware of the damage they are doing to the superbloom.
With a little luck, we can spread the word and help educate people about the dangers of picking and stepping on wildflowers!
If you want to preserve this vista for future generation, be sure to SHARE with all nature lovers!