Posts Tagged ‘Arizona’

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One example of right now…

March 13, 2015

…and right next to you, in the North American Sonoran Desert–quite a variety of flowers along the side of the Phoenix-Las Vegas highway, south of Wickenburg, on March 12: globe mallow, desert lupine, creosote bush, brittle bush, and many others. Amazing that there are so many natives right along the verge.

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Again, lower elevations, farther south, means earlier flowering time.

Interesting to watch the populations change even with slight elevation changes, going up and down hills.

Look for places that have not been bulldozed or grazed, so there are fewer weeds and more natives.

Wetlands, swales, ditches, creeks, or washes may have unusual species.

This is prime time for flowers. They change so quickly, it’s worth looking as often as you can.

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Why does the cactus look like that?

June 16, 2010

The first thing you notice about a cactus is generally the spines. Some have short, nasty little almost invisible fishhooks, some inches-long needles. Then there’s the form of the plant. Most cacti are plump, rounded, often stubby. They tend to be grayish-green in color. And they usually do not have obvious leaves.

Why?

Whenever you come across questions like this, think about the ecosystem where the organism lives. Cacti live in dry climates with a lot of sun, and few other plants, especially leafy ones.

So keeping cool is an issue. A light neutral color does not absorb a huge amount of the sun’s heat. There are very few plants with dark bark, or skins, or leaves in the desert.

Retaining moisture is perhaps the most important issue for a desert plant. The blunt, compact shape of cacti, their thick skins, and lack of leaves are all moisture-conserving features.

And lastly, toothsome, moist leaves would attract all kinds of herbivores. So the lack of leaves discourages plant-eaters, and the big spines and tough hide protect any soft, moist tissue a cactus does have.

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Signs of the Elders

August 12, 2008

Striking petroglyphs are found carved into the dense basalt rocks of Hedgepeth Hills in Glendale, Arizona.  

Rock art, Hedgepeth hills

Rock art, Hedgepeth hills

Over thousands of years, people traveled from nearby and far away to gather the dense basaltic rock they could use for food-grinding stones and other tools. And while they were there, they carved pictures in the weathered surface of the rocks.