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article imageThe Beauty of the Earth - Wildflowers bloom in California desert

By Karen Graham     Mar 31, 2017 in Environment
Borrego Springs - Following a winter of exceptional rains, the California desert has been transformed into a giant palette of colors. Wildflowers have bloomed en masse, much to the delight of tourists from around the world.
Seeing images of the "super bloom," this writer is reminded of the enduring Christian hymn, "For the Beauty of the Earth." If the author of those words, Folliot Sandford Pierpoint, were alive today, he too, would be awestruck by the carpet of wildflowers adorning the normally dry desert.
After undergoing nearly six years of extreme drought, California was inundated with rains this past winter, seemingly coming all at once. But the one positive result, other than filling the state's depleted reservoirs, was the moisture the Earth sucked up. California's "super bloom" is special, only occurring in a given area about once in a decade.
Strange Sounds/Twitter
Last year, Death Valley received the right amount of rain and warm temperature to have a super bloom. This year, the town of Borrego Springs, with a population of 3,500 people was the recipient of the super bloom phenomenon. The town is located about 85 miles (135 kilometers) northeast of San Diego.
The little town of Borrego Springs has become the state's biggest tourist attraction, drawing more than 150,000 visitors, including many tourists from other countries wanting to see the rare event. (Many visitors were unprepared for the heat, resulting in a number of them passing out).
What causes a "super bloom?"
Desert wildflowers are mostly annuals. This means they grow, live and produce seeds, and die, all in the course of a year. So if an annual plant is going to grow, it needs to know it will be able to complete its life cycle, producing seeds that will pass on its genome, and this is where evolution comes into the picture.
Strange Sounds/Twitter
Nature and the natural world is amazing. Over countless eons, plants, depending on where they naturally grow, have evolved to live and thrive in many different ecosystems, and the desert is just one of them. Because water or rains are uncertain in the desert, plants have evolved to remain dormant, sort of like sleeping, until the right conditions show up that will allow them to wake up, live, reproduce and die.
What counts the most in this event is getting the right amount of rain. In hotter deserts, more rain is required to get those seeds germinating because some of the water disappears due to evaporation, while in cooler deserts, not as much rain is needed. And so it is that nature, the rains and evolution have collided to produce the super bloom in the desert near Borrego Springs this year. Yes, the Earth is a beautiful place.
More about Wildflowers, california desert, Drought, Evolution, dormancy
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