Sunday, May 13, 2012

Colors of the Sonoran Desert

For people not familiar with the Sonoran Desert, deserts often seem desolate places. While there are places like that, the Sonoran Desert is a rich habitat with diverse plants and many creatures living well within its expanse.

Tucson is around 2000 feet elevation. Its vegetation is related to elevation and varies quite a bit across the valley. When the first pioneers came here, the valley was full of tall grass and the Santa Cruz River ran full with cottonwood trees along its banks. Overgrazing and human use changed some of that, but still it's lush and has many different types of habitat within its valley as it's ringed by mountain ranges. Some go up to the level of pine and fir trees, others are desert mountains.

Where we have our home, is a ridge off one of the Catalina Mountain's ridges. It is one of the areas where ironwood trees flourish as well as palo verde. For a very brief season, right around Cinco de Mayo, they often bloom at the same time and the colors are brilliant.

Ironwood trees are lovely, providing good shade but they also are slivery with the kind of tiny, nearly invisible slivers you don't see, but if you touch their branches, leaves or walk barefoot around them, you find them quick enough. I don't suppose many people would purposely plant them, but I love them for their shapes and that brief season in spring when they turn into cotton candy balls.







Most of the year, palo verde trees are a rather feathery green but as you can see, they have a spring season of intense color. When the two types of trees are in the same area, it's like a cacophony of color.


These photos were all taken of our Tucson yard. besides the many on our ridge, there are more in an area set aside for them called Ironwood National Monument.

5 comments:

robin andrea said...

It is quite beautiful and colorful there, rain. It is true that people who don't spend time in the desert often think of it as a barren place, but that is so wrong. The diversity of life there is pretty spectacular. Wonderful photos.

Kay Dennison said...

How absolutely lovely!!!!

Robert the Skeptic said...

I hear Tucson is a lovely place, we will have to visit sometime. My wife does have relatives there.

Hattie said...

I think it would take me some time to attune myself to the desert landscape. I was in Tucson in April once and thought it was quite lovely then.

joared said...

Thanks for sharing your photos. I've always appreciated the beauty of the desert landscape and various trees, shrubs, cacti there. I especially like the ocotilla cactus blooming with red flags waving.