Thursday, December 29, 2011

Five Desert Plants

Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata) can be found in the "hot" North American deserts... the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan.  Some authorities consider it the hardiest of the continent's dry country plants due its ability to endure two years of 100 degree plus temperatures with zero precipitation.  One colony in the Mojave is estimated to be over 11,000 years old.  Creosote bush leaves consist of two wing-shaped leaflets.  Botanist Michael Powell, an authority on Southwest Texas trees and shrubs, lists the plant's Texas distribution as the Trans-Pecos and Western Edwards Plateau...

Creosote Bush

Tarbush (Flourensia cernua) and Lechuguilla (Agave lechuguilla) are not found growing in non-cultivated status outside the Chihuahuan Desert and are considered "indicator" plants.  Like creosote bush, tarbush generates an aroma reminiscent of petroleum distillates.  Lechuguilla serves as the source for tequila and is sometimes known as "shin-dagger" for its razor sharp leaves capable of impaling any man or beast unfortunate enough to fall into it....



Javelina Bush (Condalia ericoides) follows the outlines of the Chihuahuan Desert as well.  Unlike creosote bush and tarbush, javelina bush is a spiny shrub that produces bright red drupes.  Biologist Vernon Bailey noted its presence in the Concho Valley as he traveled through the area in 1899.  Using his notes, I was able to locate a stand of this attractive desert-dweller growing not far from the somewhat misnamed Water Valley area of northwestern Tom Green County where it competes with Yucca reverchonii...

Javelina Bush

Woody Crinklemat (Tiquilia canescens) is also commonly known as Dog Ear.  Like creosote bush, this sub-shrub dots desert landscapes throughout the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan Desert regions.  It prefers limestone or calcareous soils... 

Woody Crinklemat

Note: all photographs copyrighted by Louis R Nugent

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