It's bloom time in Chile's 'flowering desert'

This is Chile's 'flowering desert'

Location: Atacama desert, Chile

The persistent drought has not prevented flowers

from blooming in the most arid desert in the world

(SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) BOTANIST AT LA SERENA UNIVERSITY'S HERBARIUM, GINA ARANCIO, SAYING:

"All you can see here in the desert, if you dig up a bit of the soil on the ground, there will be thousands of seeds and thousands of bulbs, rhizomes. This is a germplasm bank that should be not altered, even if it doesn't rain, seeds and bulbs survive many years."

Resistant seeds and bulbs bloom each spring

depending on the amount of rainfall in the winter

Experts say the area has received less and less rainfall over time

(SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) BIOLOGIST AND ECOLOGIST, ANDREA LOAYZA, SAYING:

"It is like a natural laboratory because it allows us to see how variability and changes in rainfall affect the diversity of plants."

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