Close your eyes and picture a desert. Are there any colorful flowers present in the image you conjured up in your mind? If you’re like most people, the answer is a definite “no.” However, you may be surprised to learn that one desert in particular is positively blooming with flowers these days, and although this phenomenon is quite rare, flowering deserts can actually be found.
According to The Associated Press, the Atacama Desert in Chile, known as the driest desert in the world, has been covered with a carpet of flowers after experiencing one of the wettest winters in decades. The area experienced five times the annual amount of rainfall in the period of one month, which is why approximately 200 different species of flowers have been popping up everywhere from in between cacti to underneath rocks.
The average amount of rainfall the Atacama gets each year is only 0.04 inches, and some parts of the desert have never even gotten recorded amounts of rain. The 2 inches of rain that fell in 2011 was enough to propagate huge changes in the landscape, making the whole area a lot more alive and colorful.
The weather phenomenon known as El Nino is responsible for the unexpectedly large amount of rain. It comes to the Pacific coast of South America every six or seven years, but the desert hasn’t had this many flowers bloom since 1989. The news source points out that the bulbs and rhizomes of flowers have been laying dormant beneath the dry soil for years, and the copious rainfall was finally able to reach them and allow germination.
Local botanists expect that the bloom will last from September to December, featuring a wide variety of flower species – some of which are only found in that location. Fourteen species are said to be close to extinction, which is why park rangers in the area have been trying to crack down on the issue of visitors who are digging up the flowers to take home (where they likely won’t grow).
If you’re starting to feel like the colder weather has turned your backyard into a barren desert, you may want to consider stocking up on a few exotic flowers to spice up the decor. The more colorful your choices are, the better, as everyone could use a pick-me-up when the world outside starts getting cold and bleak.