Before we begin with the plants, a gratuitous collared lizard shot (Chaco Canyon, AZ)
Now then, on to the desert plants!
(file under: Plants of the Week #9: Trees and Shrubs of the Desert Southwest)I won’t list everything that we saw, just the cool stuff or plants for which we got great photos. And, sorry this took so long to roll out. Seeing all of these plants again takes us right back though!
Cane Cholla, Cylindrapuntia spinosior (Chaco)
Brown spined prickly pear, Opuntia phaeacantha (Everywhere)
Claret cup, Echinocerus triglochidiatus (Everywhere, this specimen Chaco)
And cactus-like Narrowleaf Yucca, Yucca angstissima (mostly AZ)
The Trees: Everyone has seen the first two, but they have special significance since I spent a good chunk of my childhood exploring beneath their scarce shade. Just the smell of a pygmy forest brings back a flood of memories. Oh, and you make Gin from Juniper berries, yo.
Utah Juniper, Juniperus osteosperma (Everywhere, this specimen Canyon de Chelly)
Pinon Pine, Pinus edulis (Everywhere)
And very occasionally, usually on north facing canyon slopes, good ol’ Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii (with a juvenile pinon pine in the background) (Canyonlands)
Fremont Cottonwood, Populus fremontii (We forded this stream in the 2WD Element. Ginger was like "WHA?" and I was like "Chillax". Canyonlands)
Other trees we enjoyed: Single leaved ash, Fraxinus anomala; Box elder, Acer negundo
The shrubs: There are about ten shrubs that all look like sagebrush from the road, but get to know them and you’ll see they are each specially adapted to certain ecological conditions and have their own merit. And only sagebrush smells like sagebrush, so this is an easy way to tell what something isn’t. Just to keep us all confused, there are many varieties of sagebrush out there, but only Three Tip gets over 4’ tall.
Three tip sagebrush, Artemesia tridentata (either side of Ginger; everywhere, but this is in Canyon de Chelly)
Fendlerbush, Fenderla rupicola (pretty amazing in bloom actually, Chimney Rock, CO)
Utah serviceberry, Amelanchier utahensis (San Juan National Forest, CO)
Chokecherry, Prunus virginiana (San Juan National Forest, CO)
Cliff rose, Purshia tridentata (Canyon de Chelly)
Fremont’s Mahonia, Berberis fremontii (Canyon de Chelly)
Mormon tea (caffeine free!), Ephedra viridis (Grows everywhere)
There were more but I'll spare you. I took note of these, but didn't get good pictures:
- Greasewood, Sarcobatus vermiculatus
- Shadescale, Atriplex confertifolia
- Four winged saltbrush, Atriplex canescens
- Mountain mahogany, Cerocarpus intricatus
- Desert sumac, Rhus aromatica
- Golden Currant, Ribes aureum (also grows in eastern WA, but looks completely different)
- Longflowered snowberry, Symphorocarpus longiflorus (coolest of the snowberry clan)
Perennials. Try to stay in your seats.