11 March, 2019
Some desert flowers stay dormant for many years until the right weather conditions come along. That is exactly what is happening right now in the state of California. It is experiencing a "super bloom" – a rare happening in which huge amounts of desert flowers open at the same time.
The state's rainy winter – which was followed by warm weather – has brought endless fields of wildflowers to its Anza-Borrego desert. The colors are so bright that they can be seen from hundreds of meters high in the mountains.
This is the state's second super bloom in two years. Usually, super blooms are much rarer. In California, super blooms usually happen about once every 10 years in one area. They have been happening even less often because of years-long drought conditions.
The 2017 super bloom was the best and brightest the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park had seen in 20 years. It was so big that it could be seen from outer space. The bloom brought huge crowds to Borrego Springs, a town of 3,500 people that sits next to the park.
There is a chance that the 2019 super bloom could create an even bigger, better show of nature's beauty.
Betsy Knaak is executive director of the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association, which follows the blooms. She told the Associated Press, "There's just an abundance in where it's blooming and it's coming in waves."
Knaak recently saw hundreds of people in the fields trying to capture the beauty in pictures.
Stephen Rawding drove to the desert with his girlfriend from the city of Carlsbad, north of San Diego. The two were there to take pictures after a friend told Rawding that this year's super bloom was better than the one in 2017.
"It's unreal," Rawding said. "It's just like they said — so beautiful."
Many of the flowers are pink, purple, yellow and white.
There are the bright pink Bigelow's Monkeys, purple Sand Verbena, white and yellow Evening Primrose and the desert lilies. The lilies bloomed extremely early this season – in December. That was a sign that a super bloom might come.
Bright orange poppy flowers are also covering the sides of Southern California highways.
Jim Dice is with the Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center, part of the University of California Natural Reserve System. He said that, right now, the flowers are "a painting of colors...in many of the areas."
So far, six times the amount of rain has fallen in the Anza-Borrego desert this weather season compared to last year, Dice said.
If insects and freezing temperatures stay away, the beautiful flowers could spread to other areas into the spring.
The Anza-Borrego is California's largest state park. It has hundreds of kinds of plants, such as the tall ocotillo, which produces bright orange-red flowers.
A researcher at Dice's center recently went to the top of Anza-Borrego's Coyote Mountain to take a picture of purple fields 914 meters below.
"It was pretty spectacular to see that from up above," Dice said.
I'm Alice Bryant.
Julie Watson wrote this story for the Associated Press. Alice Bryant adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
Words in This Story
dormant – adj. not active but able to become active
abundance – n. a large amount of something
highway – n. a main road that connects cities and towns
spectacular – adj. causing wonder and admiration