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Anyone who has witnessed the stark, sere low desert landscape transformed into a kaleidoscope of colors by annual wildfl owers is not likely to soon forget the experience. Once affl icted, the wildfl ower junkie can only count the days, months and, oft times, years that pass between fi xes of fl oral fantasy. Much of the allure is based in the unpredictability of when wind swept dunes and sun baked bajadas will spring to life once again.

All the more seductive are years like this one when the oppression of an extended drought is broken—the quiescent, arid soils stirred to life by germination-inducing rains. T e skies delivered .5" of rain on the last day of November 2007, breaking a 20 month span that saw a total of .72" fall. And nearly half of that meager amount (.34") came pounding down in the form of a July ‘06 afternoon thunderstorm, much of which was quickly lost to evaporation and run-off .

T e mere 3.5" of rain this season pales in comparison to the total of 11" in 2004/05, yet an impressive wildfl ower season still materialized. It’s not just about how much, but also when and how the moisture comes that determines the magnitude of the fl ower display.


Gentle, soaking rains falling between late September and early March have the most infl uence. T e late summer/early fall rains, once the brutal heat of the summer has broken yet it is still warm, are the most important for a prolonged wildfl ower season. It is said that an initial soaking of at least 1" is necessary to initiate the massive germination that creates the carpet of color. T e wildfl ower seed’s impermeable coat keeps water from reaching the embryo unless it has been exposed to

Checker Fiddleneck (Amsinckia tessellate)

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