Taken during the 2021 'desierto florido' near Caldera, Chile. The purple flowers are Cistanthe longi...

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.

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.