The dusty hillsides of Southern California’s Anza-Borrego desert are suddenly awash with color. In the wake of a super-wet winter followed by warm weather, huge swathes of Southern California are experiencing a “super bloom” of yellow and purple wildflowers.
The bloom actually started in December with the blossom of the white desert lilies, but things really got going in the past few weeks with the burst of pink Bigelow’s Monkey Flower, Parish poppies, purple Sand Verbena, Ghost Flowers, and yellow Evening Primrose.
Wildflower seeds often have thick or waxy coatings that allow them to lie in the desert soil for years and suddenly burst to life when they experience the right combination of water and temperature.
In super blooms you can get flowers, which in some cases, are thought to be extinct," Richard Minnich, a professor of earth sciences at University of California, told KQED.
Along with some much need color, the super bloom will bring some other guests to the desert: butterflies. In turn, they will produce caterpillars, who will then snack on the flowers, and so the cycle continues.
“The cycle of life, that's the beauty of a desert bloom, that's what the story is all about,” according to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Natural History Association.
“That's what the color is telling us; it's life moving on!”
Typically, you can expect to see a super bloom like this every decade. However, this is the second time this corner of southern California has experienced a super bloom in two years, the last being in 2017. While it makes for a pretty sight, it is very unusual to have two super blooms in two years, only made possible by very specific circumstances: a rainy but cold early winter, followed by a warm late winter.
Judging by the weather forecasts, it looks like the deserts of southern California are only going to get brighter.
“It’s going to be better than it’s been in the last dozen or so years,” Mike McElhatton, educational program director of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Natural History Association, told AccuWeather.
“The rain has hit us nearly perfectly,” McElhatton said. “We are going to have a really widespread bloom; in the past, we have seen only small concentrations in select valleys. This year, it already appears that a vast majority of the 50-mile park will be in bloom.”