Saturday, May 16, 2009

On unknown terrain
Each step is a mystery.
What's out there waiting?


Allow me to bring up trees one more time.

In the last posting, I mentioned that two trees dominate this part of the Sonoran Desert. It's true. If you were to walk out in the middle of the desert you will mostly find either palo verde or mesquite trees. We also have acacia trees, but they are more like large bushes and don't usually get much taller than about six or eight feet high. And we have canotia trees that are also not very tall and are common only in certain areas.

But we do have one other tree that grows naturally in this environment - the ironwood tree. It is not nearly as common as the palo verde and mesquite, probably due to having been over-"harvested" by humans who once used the incredibly hard wood for fence posts (among other things).

Palo verde, mesquite, and ironwood are all in the legume family of plants. They all have a similar leaf structure. They all have thorns. And they all produce seed pods after they flower. In the last post I pointed out that palo verde trees are covered in bright yellow flowers. Mesquite trees have golden catkins that aren't as profuse. But the ironwood tree blooms in lavender. Because these trees are more scarce than the others, the lavender flowers are particularly stunning to see.

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