Southern California will soon see another booming superbloom
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In the next few weeks, parts of Southern California may experience a superbloom. This is when the desert landscape comes alive with flowers. These include blossoming wild poppies and verbena. It includes lilies and primroses. And it includes prickly pear. It also includes dozens of other species of ephemeral native spring wildflowers. That's according to Evan Nicole Brown at Atlas Obscura.
The term superbloom is used to describe years when excess rain causes chaparral and desert landscapes to produce more flowers than normal. Carpets of wildflowers sometimes cover entire landscapes for a brief period. So explains Eleanor Imster at EarthSky.
The seeds of desert wildflowers are made to last. They often have thick or waxy coatings. This makes them able to survive in a dormant state. They can live for years or decades. The best superblooms occur after extended drought has had time to kill off invasive weeds that compete with native wildflowers for sunlight. This is followed by above average rainfall. When the excess rain soaks and softens the seed coats the plants germinate en masse. This produces acres and acres of blossoms. This happened before in 2017. That's according to Tiffany Camhi at KQED.
Some rare species only bloom every few years, or even decades. These can pop up in some desert areas.
“In super blooms you can get flowers, which in some cases, are thought to be extinct." That's according to Richard Minnich. He is a professor of earth sciences at University of California, Riverside.
The massive Woolsey Fire burned 96,949 acres. That was in Los Angeles and Ventura. It scorched 88 percent of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. It will also help to produce a bumper crop of flowers in southern California. That’s because many wildflower species only germinate under these exact conditions. This includes poppy and popcorn-flower. It includes lily and lupine. It includes snapdragon and some sunflowers. Circumstances are right for a unique superbloom in the region. That's according to Mark Mendelsohn, a National Park Service biologist in the Recreation Area.
“Either the heat or the smoke physically causes the seed to germinate,” he says. “Steady, but not necessarily heavy, rains throughout our normal wet season of November through March…encourage most of our species to bloom in a given year. We are at ~100 to 150 percent (maybe even 200 percent) our normal rainfall up to this point.”
Jenna Chandler at Curbed Los Angeles has been fielding reports. They come from around the region. So far all signs point to conditions favorable for a massive bloom. Casey Schreiner, editor of Modern Hiker tells Chandler that the burned areas from the Woolsey fire are full of new growth. Several burned areas are ripe for greenery. This includes Paramount Ranch and Circle X Ranch. It includes Chesebro Canyons and other areas. Joshua Tree National Park has greened up too and already has some early species blooming.
“Malibu Creek State Park will be really, really hot, because it burned quite a bit, and there’s a high diversity of species there,” Mendelsohn says. “That will be the crème de la crème.”
That is, if the rain continues on and if it doesn’t get too hot too quickly. That flush of growth could wither away without blooming. That is if the weather changes for the worse.
But flower lovers are remaining optimistic that the blossoms will arrive shortly. In 2017, the superbloom began in desert areas in early March. It ran through April. The bloom could be seen from space. That's according to J. Harry Jones at The Los Angeles Times. It brought with it hundreds of thousands of extra tourists to small towns, like Borrego Springs. But they weren’t prepared for the influx of people. This year, however, restaurants and area stores are stocked up and ready to serve petal peepers. That is if and when the blooms show up for “Flowergeddon 2.”