Research NewsEcology

El Niño Drives Spectacular Flower Show

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Science  26 Jun 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5372, pp. 2048-2049
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5372.2048b

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TUCSON, ARIZONA-- This spring's eruption of wildflowers in the Southwestern desert, one of the most dazzling blooms of the century, came courtesy of the heavy rainfalls of last year's El Niño. The desert display has been a boon to scientists hoping to learn more about how wildflowers survive in harsh climates--and why not every flower blooms in every rainy year. Botanists are finding that not just total rainfall, but its timing and how it interacts with temperature and plants' own survival strategies, determines when these blooms occur.