California poppies superblooming on the mountains

California in Bloom

  • BY Sarah Harris
  • April 28, 2023
Cal State East Bay campus flowers

Flowers sprouting up in the spring mark a welcome change in the season, particularly after the historic levels of rain that have pelted California in recent months.  

The increased rainfall has created the conditions for a super bloom in California, something not seen since 2019. Joanna Garaventa, an adjunct faculty member at the Green Biome Institute, explained that increased soil moisture from greater precipitation can lead to the explosion of flowers we know as a super bloom.

So where did all these flowers suddenly come from? Seed banks, Garventa explains. Sometimes these seed banks can be deep within the soil, just waiting for the right physiological cues so they can germinate. “Soil seed banks consist of all of the seeds that have been deposited and buried within the soil. In our case, this past year has been a precipitous bloom year because the water has moistened the seed bank at a deeper level, thus giving more seeds the opportunity to sprout and bloom,” said Garaventa.

At GBI, Garaventa is in charge of rare plant collections in the field and research concerning the ecology of rare plants. She is also an alumna — Chris Baysdorfer’s undergraduate class on plant biology piqued her interest in plants. Baysdorfer is a professor in the biology department and serves as an active researcher and director of GBI. The team at GBI conducts critical work on plant conservation and genomic profiling with opportunities for students to get research experience alongside faculty members. 

As for the kinds of flowers one might see, Garaventa said, “Depending upon the area you visit you'll probably see lots of California poppies, lupines of various types (large to very petite ones),  Owl's clovers, Mariposa lilies of various types and Frilitaria among many others.” If you take a trip to see the flowers for yourself, make sure to stay on designated pathways and avoid trampling flowers so others can enjoy the sights too. 

Garaventa encourages those planning to visit the vibrant fields characteristic of the super bloom to also appreciate the many California native flowers that crop up throughout each year. “Every month and season brings different flowers into fruition!”