Wildflower ‘Superbloom’ Can be Seen from Space

California wildflower “superbloom” is so intense that the colors of the flowers are visible from outer space.

Image: Planet Labs

The colorful satellite image seen above is of Carrizo Plain National Monument, an alkali flat about 40 miles east of San Luis Obispo whose surface is normally sandy, beige, and boring. But that surface is now popping with purple, yellow, and green, thanks to this year’s wildflower “superbloom” of lupines and mustard flowers that is so lush that the colors can be seen from satellites flying 65 miles above the earth’s surface.

The image comes from Planet Labs, a satellite imagery startup that provides photos of the earth taken from outer space. Thanks to the exceptionally damp winter we just slogged through, we see from Planet Labs’ images that the spectacular California spring wildflower bloom is so vibrant that the colors are visible from space.

Curbed has some pretty outstanding animated before and after images of the satellite photos of California regions that look like drought-ravaged deserts just a few months ago. Meanwhile over at KQED, they’ve got some dynamic satellite images that let you scroll back and forth to play around and see how the wildflowers have changed these dull surfaces into something special.

These images are all from central and southern California, whose wildflower blooms generally peak in late March and early April. Here in the Bay Area, we can expect our superbloom to peak from late April through early June. According the tourism nonprofit Visit California, the best Bay Area spots to see wildflowers are generally Point Reyes, Russian Ridge, and Half Moon Bay.   

If you prefer wildflower photos shot from up close instead of outer space, there are nearly 60,000 spectacular wildflower images on Instagram under the hashtag #superbloom.

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