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LOOK: Breathtaking ‘Super Bloom’ of Wildflowers Erupts in California Desert

Mar 10, 2017 05:50 AM EST
Super bloom in California desert
Even deserts get a flash of striking color every now and then.
(Photo : David McNew/Getty Images)

Often barren and dry, the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in southeastern California has transformed into a spectacular field of wildflowers. Their lives may be fleeting, but the bloom is stunning while it lasts.

The phenomenon is called a "super bloom," a term describing an explosion of wildflowers that's more extreme than what spring usually brings, according to a report from National Geographic. Vibrant colors of all shapes and sizes stretch over the expanse of the park with wildflowers like poppies, primroses and lilies.

Tourists flock to the park every spring to get a glimpse of 92 different plant families, 346 genera and hundreds of flowering species, according to the park website.

This year, the bloom is especially breathtaking.

"What's happened in the last four or five days is extraordinary," Kathy DeMunck, an assistant manager at the desert's nature center, told National Geographic. "We really haven't had this kind of a bloom since 2005. The desert has really come alive."

Super blooms occur because of annuals that grow in deserts. Seeds lie dormant underground, sprouting as soon as a good amount of water washes over them and removes their protective coating. This year, California's very rainy fall and winter seasons and a particularly cool winter brought down a heaping of rain and locked in the moisture into the ground, creating an extra-special super bloom.

"This is probably the first big bloom in at least 12 years and maybe more like 20 years," Sally Theriault, state park interpreter with the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, said in a report from San Diego Union Tribune. "I'll go out on a limb and say it'll last probably a week or two, but those caterpillars are a force of nature to be reckoned with for sure."

So, it's best to drive to the park as soon as possible, before the caterpillars chomp on the flowers. Other dangers are the rising temperatures and strong winds. The peak for the super bloom is reportedly in the middle of March until the end of the month.

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