This Is a Desert. Notice Something Strange?
If you were ever considering a spontaneous trip to the desert, now is your time. A normally barren-looking California desert landscape has transformed into a colorful field of flowers over the past few days—a lot of flowers.
The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in southeastern California is experiencing a "super bloom." A super bloom is a colloquial term used to define an explosion of wildflowers that exceeds typical spring blooms. The park, which is typically bare of flowers, has come alive with vibrant greenery, poppies, primroses, and lilies.
"What's happened in the last four or five days is extraordinary," said Kathy DeMunck, an assistant manager at the desert's nature center. "We really haven't had this kind of a bloom since 2005. The desert has really come alive."
Peak bloom for Anza-Borrego wildflowers is expected to occur mid-March and last until the end of the month.
A number of conditions colluded to create the desert landscape's explosive field of flowers. An uncharacteristically rainy fall and winter season effectively ended California's longstanding drought. Anza-Borrego, which is the largest state park in California, saw seven inches of rain alone. The cold winter that followed further locked more moisture into the ground.
The desert's explosive color occurs every spring, beginning in mid-March, thanks to the annuals that grow in deserts. Annuals are also referred to as ephemerals and called such because they are short-lived. Instead of struggling to stay alive year-round in harsh desert conditions, the seeds lie dormant and only sprout when water washes the protective coating from their seeds.
Ideal spring bloom conditions in the deserts of the southwest occur when heavy rains come during late fall and are followed by El Nino weather patterns.
Last year, California's Death Valley, one of the hottest and driest places on Earth, saw a similar abundance of flowers.
For those who live near southern California, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported on how best to see these spectacular flowers in person. They recommend visiting the park early in the morning, before warm weather causes flowers to close later in the day. To help visitors make the most of their visit, the park has a wildflower hotline.
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