A very interesting story from AccuWeather. The natural world continues to amaze.
California wildflowers outsmarted the extreme drought that has gripped the state, a new study found.
Native wildflowers banked seeds underground at a higher rate than normal, proving their resiliency during drought conditions.
Researchers at UC Davis found that seeds of native wildflowers increased by 201 percent underground from 2012-2014. Above ground, seeds increased by 14 percent.
The study used a sample of 22,000 seedlings from a reserve in Northern California.
California suffered the most severe drought conditions in the last century from 2012-2014, according to a 2014 study.
“Seed banking is a form of bet-hedging,” said Marina LaForgia, lead author of the study and a graduate student at UC Davis’ Department of Plant Sciences.
Wildflowers and other plants can store seeds in soil, saving them for the future in better conditions.
Wildflowers are a low risk, low reward type of better, she said, while grass takes a riskier approach.
However, extended drought conditions still pose a threat to the wildflower population.
“…more frequent, severe or prolonged future droughts could eventually exceed these native species’ capacity to put more and more seeds into the seed bank for their long-term survival,” LaForgia said.
Still, some of the toughest wildflowers were beating the odds during the worst of the drought. Drought-tolerant wildflowers increased by 13 percent above the ground.
Their below-ground seed banks grew by more than a stagger 260 percent as the flowers adapted to the arduous conditions.