Thursday, October 5, 2006

Desert beauty

Many people who haven't visited Arizona really have the wrong impression of what it's really like. Picturing Sahara type sand dunes, a stark environment and camels is quite different than it really is.  Of course summer temperatures are not fit for man nor beast, but that's why air conditioning was invented. The rest of the year we've got a moderate climate making Arizona a wonderful place to be. We get ample rains most years to keep the desert green and thriving with an array of fabulous desert plants. Below you'll see pictures of some of the more common ones in our area. There are quite a few more, but I'll have to post them at another time after we get some good shots.
Hope you enjoy our desert flora!
This is one of my favorites, a Palo Verde Tree (Spanish for "green stick") a lovely tree that bears pretty yellow flowers. The bark and branches are a lime green color, very nice!


This is the Teddy Bear Cholla, it sounds soft and cuddly
It's NOT!


This is a Hedgehog Cactus and Daisies in bloom beneath a Cholla.

Jumping Cholla Cacti, this is one of the desert's bad boys. (no they don't really jump but if you pass close to one, you're almost guaranteed to get stuck!) The spines fall on the ground and if stepped on, they can puncture even a heavy hiking boot.


The symbol of the desert. The mighty Saguaro. These giants can live to be several hundred years old. They're masters at storing water within their pleated skins which expand as water increases. They provide shelter to a variety of desert dwelling birds and critters.


 The Ocotillo looks like a cactus but really isn't, it's got leaves and cacti don't have leaves. It blooms in the springtime bearing pretty red flowers on the ends of each stem. Early ranchers often planted these instead of using barbed wire because the spiny stems would keep cattle contained within the confines of the living corral.


This is our giant Prickly Pear growing alongside our house. The blooms look like something right out of a Georgia O'Keeffe painting.


The same cactus decided to put out orange flowers instead of yellow 

This is another variety of Prickly Pear growing wild. In the colder months they turn from green to purple.  Javelina (the southwest version of a wild pig) love the Prickly Pears, they eat them spines and all...ouch!

A Hummingbird Moth who came to visit our window box