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Native wildflowers bank on seeds underground to endure drought

Native wildflowers were surprisingly resilient during California's most recent drought, even more so than exotic grasses. But signs of their resilience were not evident with showy blooms aboveground. Rather, they were found mostly underground, hidden in the seed bank. Seed banks are a clever survival tool that native wildflowers use to weather highly variable climates like California, where one year can be extremely dry and the next extremely wet. To take advantage of both of those climates, they keep a portion of their seeds dormant in the soil rather than spending them all at once. This helps ensure their long-term survival. During the drought, the wildflowers operated like someone who has kept their job during an economic crisis but is wary of losing it. The person continues to produce and make money, but they save a greater proportion of it in the bank rather than spend it as they may have before the crisis. Similarly, native wildflowers were still germinating and producing seeds, but they saved a greater proportion of that seed underground, waiting for more favorable conditions to emerge.

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