Are the conditions right for a “super bloom” in rainy California? Here’s what the experts say

A super bloom on the horizon? It all depends on the weather.

Californians endured a record rainy season earlier this year and conditions certainly look ripe for wildflowers to bloom in the coming weeks from the state’s waterlogged ground. But experts say that’s no guarantee of a super bloom.

The key ingredient is more rain, because the difference between a super bloom season and a regular wildflower spring will depend on whether California gets more rain in the weeks ahead.

A superbloom is a brilliant display of bright colors spread over a desert landscape or chaparral after the area has been inundated with rain. While large swaths of California have received record rainfall, the season could turn dry over the next few weeks, reducing the chances of bumper blooms.

Areas where wildflowers typically bloom, such as Palmdale, Lancaster and parts of the Sonoran Desert near Palm Springs, did not see the same downpour of rain as other parts of the state, according to data from the National. Weather Service.

“There will be flowering, but the question is whether there will be large flowers or will they be ventral flowers?” said Richard Minnich, a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at UC Riverside. “Belly flowers, which means you get on your stomach to see them because they’re so small.”

Wildflowers thrive after a rainy season and especially after years of drought. Evening primrose, desert lilies and other wildflowers come to life in the spring if the conditions are right. But there are no guarantees, according to Minnich. There are many variables involved for a seed to germinate.

In years past, deep blue poppies and lupins lined Diamond Valley Lake in Hemet.

Lupins, ocotillos and yellow brickellbush carpeted the desert floor near Joshua Tree National Park.

And the hills of Lake Elsinore sang with the vibrant displays of flowers welcoming a deluge of ecotourists. Minnich expects flowers in the lower San Joaquin Valley around Bakersfield.

For most of the West, orange California poppies get the most attention on Instagram and other social media sites in the brief window during a superbloom, but the concept itself is relatively new, mostly powered by social media and attention grabbing headlines.

Arata Sakamoto, 10, of Los Angeles, takes photos of flower-filled hills at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Preserve in Lancaster on March 26, 2019.

(Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)

There is no scientific definition of what constitutes an overbloom, according to Daniel Winkler, ecologist researcher at the US Geological Survey, Southwest Biological Science Center.

“The superbloom is really a cultural phenomenon, where people decide there are enough flowers here, right now, that we call it a superbloom,” Winkler said.

Real or not, it’s still too early to tell whether this year’s conditions will bring a superbloom, according to the National Park Service. But there are shoots coming out of the ground, promising.

We will have to wait and see.

Lower elevation wildflowers should begin blooming from mid-February to mid-April, while higher elevations will see blooms from April through May and July. But again, poppies have their own schedule.

Los Angeles Times

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