Living color

Desierto florido: What causes these rare flower blooms in the world’s driest desert?

The Atacama Desert presents bursts of colorful flowers every few years.

Taken during the 2021 'desierto florido' near Caldera, Chile. The purple flowers are Cistanthe longi...
Oven Pérez-Nates
For most people, the word “desert” probably conjures similar images:

Barren wastes dotted with cacti, maybe a lizard darting from rock to rock.

Stuart Zahn / 500px/500px/Getty Images

VW Pics/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

But deserts hide plenty of life, and at least in one desert, that life bursts into vibrant view once every few years.