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The vegetation of the Mojave and Colorado deserts:

Annuals

wildflowers in Joshua Tree National Park
An annual plant germinates, grows, flowers, sets seed, and dies in less than one year, avoiding drought in a dormant state within the seed. Annuals are also referred to as “ephemerals” due to their short lifespans. Seeds of desert plants remain viable for long periods, only germinating when conditions are right. Winter ephemerals germinate and grow in response to sufficient fall and winter rainfall, while summer annuals respond to adequate amounts of summer monsoon rains, blooming in late summer and early fall when the rest of the desert plants are dormant. Desert winter ephemerals typically live for 8 months, and desert summer ephemerals typically live for 2–3 months. During most years, the annuals are absent or few. Rarely, perhaps once in a decade, above-average precipitation triggers widespread germination of annual plants which blossom into spectacular carpets of wildflowers. One such event occurred in 2005, causing millions of tourist to descend on Death Valley to view the breathtaking spring floral displays.


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