Yucca is an evergreen, perennial plant with spine-tipped leaves that grow in a rosette around a thick central stem. More than 25 species of Yucca live in the arid regions of the southwest. One of the finest aspects of this desert plant is that it is low maintenance.
If its craggy look doesn’t bother you then it is not even necessary to prune it.
Trimming the Yucca plant is commonplace, especially for ornamental purposes. The best time to prune those rugged leaves is spring. While early spring is the ideal season, a yucca can be trimmed anytime. Just make sure the yucca plant gets plenty of light while it is recovering.
Cutting back a yucca may look harsh, but it is an attractive way to keep your plant manageable. When the Yucca completes flowering cut the stalk all the way to the ground with a sharp pair of lopping shears. To prevent cuts and scratches, wear heavy garden gloves.
Keep in mind that cutting the top off the yucca encourages the root system to push up new growth and more plants, called “pups” will appear. Hire professionals to do your yucca trimming if you are short on time.
Tidbits: The Apache Indians preferred the flowers of Yucca elata, a thin-leaf yucca, to those of the thick-leaf banana yucca. We know that these flowers were eaten thousands of years ago because unusually large amounts of yucca pollen have been found in some dried human feces collected from Hinds Cave.
Maguey or Agave americana is a native plant from Mexico, but is now cultivated in many parts of the world. This drought tolerant plant, also known by the name century plant or American aloe, is neither an aloe nor a cactus, but pertains to the Agavaceae family. The unique architectural Agave is one of the best xeriscape plants for your garden.
Maguey Plant is one of the many species of agave plants (commonly called cactus) that exist in the Americas. They grow in semi-arid environments from sea level to an altitude of about 9000 feet.
Above, is one of the largest Agave Americana Plants, Maguey Plant or Century Plants in the world. (photo courtesy of statesman.com)
In ancient Mesoamerica, (Middle America), maguey or agave, was first collected and then cultivated for many uses. Native people used the agave leaves to make ropes, construction materials and textiles. See the picture below of Agave felgeri, also called Mescalito. Mescalito is native to Mexico and is found in many desert gardens especially in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona.
Ancient Mayans used Agave thorns in bloodletting rituals, Royal Maya Blood Sacrifices, to communicate with the gods. However, the most important product the Mayans obtained from maguey, agave, was a mildly alcoholic beverage called pulque, obtained by the fermentation of the sweet, milky juice extracted from the agave plant.
Agave americana(aka Century Plant) is a massive plant. There are many varieties of agave in cultivation, with some being excellent for smaller gardens or pots, and some being too large; therefore used for botanical gardens or ranches.
Agaves are called century plants since some species take 100 years to flower in the wild. However, in cultivation with adequate summer moisture, most agaves flower between 10 and 15 years of age. When they do flower, the tall bloom stalks attract many hummingbirds!
Agave americana grows wild in Europe, India, Australia and South Africa. It has become naturalized in many areas such as California. In southern California there are massive plantings of Agave american, Century Plants, along the highways. This Century Plant, Agave american, is a common species of agave that is beautiful but very aggressive. Many gardens in California and Mexico use Agave americana as a living fence.
When Century plants or other agave cactus are grown in pots, they will grow to the size of the container. Please note that containerized century plants must be brought indoors when temperatures drop below freezing. Below is one of our agaves growing in a pot next to other cacti. Two Maguey, Agave americanas are in the top right of the picture below.
Coyotes have learned to survive and even thrive in our human disturbed environments. In the picture below is a desert coyote looking through our patio window. Although he appreciates the delicious smells of dinner preparation, this coyote will have to hunt for his own meal in the Arizona desert.
In Native American tales of the coyote, this animal is either respected for its intelligence or the coyote is frowned upon for being cunning and manipulative. We carry admiration for this wild member of the canine family. Coyotes have never given us problems except overturned trash cans on a few occasions.
The size of the coyote home range varies from one family to another. Home areas are larger in late winter during the coyote mating season, and smaller in the spring when food is plentiful and the mated coyote pairs are raising pups.
Look closely in the photo above and you can see 2 coyotes. Male and female coyotes mate for life.
Breeding season for coyotes is January through April. Gestation is approximately 60-63 days. Two months after mating, the female gives birth to 1-12 coyote pups.
The video below is filled with adorable coyote pups!
Both parents hunt for food and feed the young by regurgitating their meals. The male coyotetakes the lead hunting role when the pups are newborns, obtaining enough food for both his mate and offspring.
Coyotes have large triangular ears and a long, narrow muzzle. They have an extremely well-developed sense of smell! The coyote has intense yellow eyes. As beautiful as this wild animal is; we also know how dangerous and how big the coyote’s teeth are!
Since the dog, coyote and wolf are from the same family, Canidae, there is similar resemblance. Coyotes have a bushy tail which is usually tipped in black and is carried down when the animal moves. One way to tell the coyote apart from its cousin the wolf; is to watch its tail when it runs. Coyotes run with their tail down and wolves run with their tail straight out.
Many have asked – Is the Red Bird of Paradise plant toxic?
All 3 of the bird of paradise flowering bushes are poisonous.
The orange and yellow flowers of the Caesalpinia pulcherrima, make a stunning bush.
The true Mexican Bird of Paradise tree has yellow flowers and round leaves.
The Yellow Bird of paradise plant has clusters of yellowflowers with a long red stamen.
All of these beautiful desert bushes belong to the genus Caesalpinia. But DO NOT eat any part of the 3 Bird of Paradise plants.
Caesalpinia is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, FABACEAE. The fruit of these Bird of Paradise desert bushes is a long, flat seed pod.
The seed pods are toxic! Watch small children and pets around these shrubs.
The level of toxicity for the bird of paradise plants is low. The leaves contain hydrocyanic acid. The toxins in the bean pods are tannins. The role of tannins in many species of plants is to protect it from predators.
Ingesting any part of bird of paradise plants can cause gastrointestinal irritation. Nausea, diarrhea and vomiting are symptoms of bird of paradise poisoning.
While the Red, Yellow and Mexican Bird of Paradise’s toxins are not life-threatening; keep in mind that diarrhea and vomiting can produce dehydration. These symptoms should be taken seriously and you should seek medical treatment.
Like many people who savor gardening as a hobby, we fancy the bright colors and upbeat feeling a sunflower brings! So, how many varieties of sunflowers are there?
First, SUNFLOWERS belong to the genus Helianthus, which contains over 70 species. Most varieties are annuals; but, Helianthus incorporates 38 species that are perennial (grow back every year on their own). With so many cultivars out there one can get overwhelmed quickly! We’ve identified several Sunflower favorites to make it easier.
The variety called “Holiday Sunflower” has uneven heights and multiple blooms.
Sunflowers track the sun throughout the day, but when they are fully grown the mature flower-heads face towards the east and no longer move. To grow the best sunflowers they will need full sun!
The variety called Ring of Fire is another dwarf sunflower species that is very uniform and under 3 feet in height.
Dwarf sunflowers are a perfect choice if you want to grow sunflowers in a pot or window container. After choosing the size of the container, add a layer of small rocks to help the soil drain. To grow sunflowers you will need fertile moist soil with heavy mulch.
The variety called Big Smile Sunflower is under 2 feet in height, has multiple blooms and is a Dwarf Sunflower Plant.
The sunflower stem is rough and hairy with a circular head of flowers. The head has hundreds of individual flowers which mature into seeds.
The sunflower species called Autumn Beauty branches out with a variety of yellow, red and orange colors.
In the 16th century, sunflower seeds from the Americas were brought to Europe along with sunflower oil and they became a popular cooking ingredient.
Tohokujhae Sunflowers are bright yellow with multiple blooms. This variety has big double flowers 6-7 inches across. The height of Tohokujhae sunflowers is 3-6 feet.
The leaves of the sunflower can be used as cattle feed and the fiber in the stems can be used in the production of paper.
Some say Sonja Sunflowers are a weaker variety. The height is uneven and ranges from 3-5 feet. This sunflower has a dark center with big yellow petals.
Within Arizona’s Tucson Basin is The Saguaro National Park. This park provides the ideal conditions for sustaining dense stands of the famous saguaro cactus.
**The most important factors for growth are water and temperature. If the elevation is too high, the cold weather and frost can kill the saguaro. Although the Sonoran Desert experiences both winter and summer rains, studies show that the Saguaro cactus obtains most of its moisture during the summer monsoon season.
There are dozens of varieties of cacti; short, tall, stout, delicate but none quite as magnificent as the Giant Saguaro cactus.
Quick Saguaro Facts:
Saguaros have one deep tap-root but most of this cactus’ roots are 4-6 inches deep and span out as far as the desert plant is tall.
The saguaro is the largest cactus in the US.
After the saguaro dies its woody ribs can be used to build roofs, fences, and parts of furniture.
The Giant Saguaro can live to be 200 years old.
In the Sonoran desert the saguaro cactus has a boundless variety of towering and many armed shapes.
Water makes up 75 to 95 percent of the saguaro cactus’ weight. During periods of drought the pleats of the saguaro cactus contract. During Arizona rains the saguaro expands as it soaks up moisture.
Saguaros, like many desert cacti, grow excruciatingly slow. Arizona cactus experts estimate that a forty-foot tall saguaro is about 150 years old. Arm buds begin to appear when the saguaro is 75 years old.
Many saguaros now standing in cactus forests germinated in the mid-1800s.
To survive their early years, saguaro seedlings must be sheltered from the elements, whether it be under the canopy of other plants or in the crevices of rocky outcrops. Saguaro seeds can be deposited in droppings of birds roosting on branches of shrubs and trees.
Lightning, powerful winds, harsh winter freezes and the rotting of dead tissue kill saguaros. The saguaro’s woody ribs stay on the desert floor until they are consumed by termites or decay and return to the soil.
The saguaro is not currently listed as threatened or endangered. Arizona has strict regulations about the harvesting, collection or destruction of the saguaro cactus.
Saguaro cactus can be found in southern Arizona and western Sonora, Mexico.
This is the best Pond pump we have ever used and our fish are healthy and thriving. This All in One Pond Filter system is a compact filter for water gardens and ponds with Koi and fish. It is extremely easy to install and easy to clean. See the photos I posted from cleaning the pump today.
With the Lifegard All in One pond filter you have a choice of 4 different fountain spray patterns for your pond. To help control algae this efficient pump includes an ultraviolet sterilizer that has a separate plug so you can operate it only when you need to.
The pond filter unit will float. I need to put a few heavy rocks on top to hold the pond pump in place. After years of using various pumps for our small Arizona pond, this is by far the absolute best pump system and I highly recommend it. Even more so if you have fish and Koi in your pond.
Our Labrador, was tested for Valley Fever; his test results and xrays are negative. This is the best news and wonderful blessing.
If you live in Arizona, you and your animals will most definitely come in contact with Valley Fever fungi. A strong immune system will defeat Valley Fever just like it would the flu.
The mucous membrane linings of the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and genitourinary tracts provide one of the first lines of defense against invasion by microbes. Internal defense mechanisms for the immune system include the Lymphatic system, Thymus gland, bone marrow, spleen, white blood cells and antibodies.
I’ve learned quite a bit regarding an animal’s immune system and the importance of keeping your pet healthy.
Our Jack Russel, is currently on medication for Valley Fever. He is doing great and running around like a puppy! Valley Fever is treated with anti-fungus medication.
The immune system is your cat’s, dog’s, bunny’s, etc… PROTECTOR. It is the immune system’s job to respond to infectious challenges and antigenic stimuli from the outside world without destroying the host animal itself.
My entire family, with and without fur, wishes you Love, Peace and most of all good Health.
Our Arizona Veterinarian informed us that our dog has Valley Fever, coccidioidomycosis. This article is to share the information and facts we learned about Valley Fever fungus. Our dog is on Valley Fever antifungal medicine, and his prognosis looks good.
What symptoms made us visit the veterinarian?
Our dog was eating well but losing weight.
A few times I caught our pet crying as though he were in pain.
Something just seemed off with our dog
Canine valley fever originates in a dog as it inhales the coccidioidomycosis fungal spores. These fungus spores are usually found in dirt and in arid areas of the desert. Once inhaled, valley fever spores grow and multiply very rapidly at the first available point in a dog’s body, the lungs.
Symptoms of coccidioidomycosis, valley fever, usually appear between 1 and 3 weeks after exposure to the fungus.
Common Symptoms of Valley Fever in Dogs and Cats
Dry or moist cough
Bone swelling/joint enlargement
Extreme weight loss with muscle wasting
Enlarged lymph nodes
Most fungi are harmless, but some types like Valley Fever can make you sick. The map below shows areas of the United States that have common cases of Valley Fever in humans and animals.
The fungus spores of Valley Fever begin in the lungs until they grow large enough to rupture, releasing hundreds of endospores. These numerous spores begin a parasitic stage in the tissues and disseminate into the animal’s body. The Valley Fever Fungus can spread to the organs.
The immune system does have the capability to fight off the Valley Fever infection before symptoms can even be realized, but it requires an exceptionally strong immune system to do so.
According to the University of Arizona, about 70% of dogs who inhale Valley Fever spores control the infection and do not become sick. The Valley Fever infection can range from mild to severe.
Canine Valley Fever will begin to affect the dog’s joints if the condition continues to progress. It is very sad when the infection of Valley Fever is so severe in the bones that an animal can no longer move its arms or legs.
It is very important to continue medicating your dog as directed until the veterinarian confirms that the blood tests are negative and tells you to stop medication. If you stop treating Valley Fever too soon, symptoms may recur. Some animals will have to remain on the anti fungal medication for life.
Is Valley Fever contagious from animal to animal, human to human, or animal to human?
NO. Valley Fever is considered a non-contagious disease. Even if multiple animals or humans are affected in the same household, each Valley Fever case was acquired independently.
Recently, I felt swollen glands on our other dog. This week we took him to the doctor for Valley Fever blood tests and x-rays. Already our heart is heavy with our little dog being infected and I can’t yet imagine how crushed we will be if our other dog comes up positive.
A Valley Fever vaccine is under development. Here’s hoping it is developed soon and may be available to prevent Valley Fever or make it very mild.
The Valley Fever Center for Excellence at the University of Arizona is the only academic research institution in the world focused on the study of Valley Fever.
The most famous desert animal is the coyote. One could even consider the coyote as a symbol of the West. Native American legends call the coyote the WISE ONE. Our relatives live in a natural area of the Sonoran Desert with a first hand view of coyote behaviors.
Sometimes called the Prairie Wolf, coyotes are a species of canine found throughout North America from eastern Alaska to New England and south into Mexico and Panama.
With their narrow face and big ears a coyote can be mistaken for a medium sized dog. The coyote’s fur color is light brown to grayish. They have a long, bushy tail with a black tip. Desert coyotes only weigh 15 to 25 pounds with long slender legs and small feet. You will NEVER see a fat coyote in the wild.
The picture above was taken while we stood in the backyard. Most evenings, as the sun begins to set the coyotes start the hunt for food. No matter how well we try to hide they know we are there.
The coyote is intelligent and has keen senses that adapt it for survival. They have excellent vision, acute hearing, and an extremely sensitive nose!
The coyote’s elongated nose, muzzle, has a highly developed sense of smell to detect prey, other coyotes and us humans.
According to Tennessee Wildlife Resources The coyote’s eyesight is six times greater than humans. The sense of smell of the coyote is 23 times better than a human.
Coyotes typically sing a wake up song around dusk as they prepare for a hunt. Theymake unique sounds to communicate with their family members.
Coyotes adjust their hunting style to what foods are available. When they hunt small prey alone, they usually stalk it and then pounce. If the prey is larger like a deer, coyote will often hunt in small packs and work together to kill the prey.
Coyotes are omnivores, which means they will eat or try to eat just about anything. In the Sonoran Desert, coyotes vary their diet with the seasons. Cactus fruit, mesquite beans, flowers, insects, rodents, lizards, rabbits, birds, and snakes make up some of their dietary choices.
Secure your garbage cans because coyotes will knock them over. Coyotes also walk along the tops of walls around homes in search of unattended dogs and cats to eat. Coyotes have lured free-roaming dogs away from their owners to attack them. They are cunning.
The most common enemy that coyotes face is disease. Bears, wolves and mountain lions will also prey upon coyotes. A pack of coyotes is their strength and should never be underestimated. How fast can a coyote run? They run up to 30 mph.
Coyotes have a central den site which is used for rearing the pups and sleeping. They will scent mark the area around the den and defend it from other coyotes. The breeding season is February to March with young born in April and May. Coyotes only use dens for whelping pups.
In the wild, coyotes live between 10-14 years. In captivity coyotes are known to live much longer, as many as 20 years.
Coyote is always out there waiting, and Coyote is always hungry. – Navajo Proverb
Many Native American tribes consider the coyote to be their creator. Some tribes also regard Coyote as teacher and magician. Coyote is often associated with the “trickster.” In all of its roles, Coyote is a benevolent figure, intentionally or otherwise helping us to restore balance and order.
While traveling Arizona we stopped at Saguaro National Park, in Tucson. The park is located in the Sonoran Desert.
The giant cacti, called Saguaros, are protected and preserved within the park.
After a single rainfall, Saguaros can soak up to 200 gallons of water through their huge network of roots that lay just 4-6 inches below the desert surface. That is enough water to last this giant cactus an entire year!
A saguaro expands like an accordion when it absorbs water which can increase its weight by up to a ton.
In 1931, The Saguaro’s Blossom became the Arizona State Flower.
The Saguaro Cactus blooms April through June. Its flowers are creamy white and numerous. Up to a hundred flowers can bloom on one Saguaro Cactus!
The saguaro blossom opens after sunset and by the next afternoon the flower is wilted. The white cactus flower repeats itself night after night. During the few hours the saguaro flower is open birds, bats, and honeybees pollinate them.
Later in the summer, the cactus flowers that were pollinated will become red-fleshed saguaro fruits that are enjoyed by the local bird population. The saguaro cactus is also known as the pitahaya, sahuara and giant cactus.
The Saguaro often begins life with a nurse tree or shrub which can provide shade and moisture for the germination of life. This Saguaro grows slowly — only about an inch a year — eventually becoming very tall; reaching heights of 50 feet. The largest saguaro cacti, with more than 5 arms, are approximately 200 years old.
We found several bark scorpions in our Arizona yard but this is the first time we found a Giant Desert Hairy Scorpion, Hadrurus arizonensis. This giant scorpion is the largest scorpion in the United States.
Scorpions are related to spiders, ticks, mites, etc… They are venomous arthropods in the class Arachnida. Scorpions have over 1,300 species throughout the world. They have four pairs of legs and pedipalps with plier-like pincers on the end.
Three species of scorpions are commonly found in the Arizona Desert:
Small Bark Scorpion, Centruroides exilicauda
Striped Tail or Devil’s Scorpion, Vaejovis spinigerus
Giant Desert Hairy Scorpion, Hadrurus arizonensis
Arizona is home to more than 30 species of scorpions but the only truly “life threatening” one is the small Bark Scorpion. Unlike the other species, Bark Scorpions like to climb.
Scorpions have mouthparts called chelicerae that enable it to rip and tear its prey while feeding. They have a sensitive antennae along with the pincer-like pedipalps that are used to hold the prey while inflicting venom or eating. The Scorpion’s body has two main parts; the cephalothorax and the abdomen.
According to the book Scorpions: A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual, in order to measure a scorpion; start from the tip of the telson, stinger, to the prosoma, head. Our Arizona scorpion was just over 5 inches! Giant Hairy Scorpions have a dark back.
The metasoma (tail) of the scorpion is actually an extension of the abdomen. It consists of five segments, each one longer than the last; at the tip is the telson (stinger).
All Scorpions are nocturnal and leave their shelters at night in search for prey. A Giant Hairy Scorpion burrows deep in the desert soil. This large scorpion follows the moisture level in the soil and can burrow as far as 8 feet below the surface!
Scorpion burrows are commonly oval or crescent-shaped.
Although this scorpion is very large, the sting is somewhat mild and feels similar to a bee sting. The sting is not life threatening. If by some chance you experience an allergic reaction to a Giant Hairy Scorpion sting, seek medical attention immediately.
Scorpions give birth to live young during the summer months and the babies safely ride on mom until their first molt, approximately 2-3 weeks.
If you really want to observe these ancient nocturnal arachnids, take a black light to the desert on a moonless, warm night. In the dark you will be able to see scorpions dig burrows, capture prey and possibly witness a unique mating ritual.
How do we try to keep our home scorpion free? By keeping our windows and doors closed! When opening a door in the desert, make it a habit to look at the bottom. It is known that scorpions have poor eyesight and tend to walk along walls. Glue boards placed by doors and windows are good ways to catch scorpions inside the home. Bark Scorpions are smaller and more common in homes. Bark Scorpion stings can be fatal so we have a contract with Truly Nolen that helps to keep our home safe.
We were privileged to document the noble Brown Pelican landing at Lakeside Park in Tucson. This impressive sea-bird extended its wings (almost 8′ wingspan) to brake before alighting on the water.
Various migratory birds wind up off course due to bad weather and end up in Arizona lakes.
Brown Pelicans have an extremely long bill with a large pouch attached on the lower half. The pelicans pouch is used to catch fish.
According to the LA Times, these odd looking large Brown Pelicans were nearly driven to extinction because of abuse from hunters and fishermen.
Hunters coveted its plumage and commercial fishermen believed pelicans were gobbling too many fish. These sea birds were also hurt by the effects of a chemical pesticide, DDT. It is no wonder brown pelicans were placed on the federal endangered species list.
Louisiana’s state bird is the Brown Pelican. This bird started to make a recovery, only to suffer again from the coastal damage incurred from the oil spills.
During the oil spill in 2010, this whole area was covered with oil, said P.J. Hahn, a coastal zone director in Louisiana. The brown pelican was particularly at risk because it dives beneath the water’s surface to forage.
Dedicated teams worked diligently to save the brown pelicans after the massive oil spill.
Are Brown Pelicans, still on the endangered species list?
The Brown Pelican finally came off the endangered species list in 2009. Now, there is a growing fear history could repeat itself because there is not enough habitat for the birds to nest.
One of the most prominent characteristics to observe for this large pelican, also called the California Brown Pelican, is the way it forages for food. It dives beneath the water surface. Pelicans simply catch the fish in their pouch, drain the water out and swallow the fish immediately.
Watching the Pelicans effortlessly fly, gallantly dive, and methodically fish was one of the highlights of our year!
These Sea Birds can facilely glide low over the water; so low their wingtips often brush the waves – with occasional slow, powerful wing beats to gain speed.
Brown Pelican birds are the only pelican to plunge dive to catch their prey, other species of pelicans fish from the surface of the water.
They can be seen performing a surface plunge from as high as 20 meters to catch their prey!
Click below to watch a short video of Brown Pelicans diving for fish:
In flight, the Brown Pelicans hold their head back on their shoulders and rest their billon their folded neck.
Pairs of Brown Pelicans are monogamous for a single season but the pair bond extends only to the nesting area; away from the nest, mates are independent.
From the fossil record, it is known that pelicans have been around for over 40 million years.Brown Pelicans live on both coasts in the United States.
Nesting and roosting birds are very sensitive to human disturbance, load noises from boats etc… Nest disturbance is the biggest reason for a bird to abandon its nest. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal to tamper with, or destroy active nests of native wild birds. If there are eggs or babies – you cannot touch the nest or harass the birds in any way.
Brown Pelicans reach sexual maturity at 3-5 years of age. Adult Brown Pelicans have few natural predators.
Quick Brown Pelican Facts:
Young pelicans feed by sticking their bills into their parents’ throats
Pelicans build large nest structures on the ground, in trees, or on vegetation
The nesting season can extend from January through October
Brown pelicans normally lay three eggs and the adults share incubation duties
They can dive from 60 feet in the air
Brown pelicans can live up to 40 years old
A pelican’s throat pouch can hold over 2 gallons of water
If you see Brown Pelicans in Arizona PLEASE CallAZ Game and Fish at 520-290-9453 and let them know.
Define drought tolerant. What is a drought resistant plant? Here is the difference between drought tolerant (true desert plant) and drought resistant (originated in semi-arid places).
A flower or plant that has naturally evolved to survive periods of drought with little water and has the ability to tolerate substantial dehydration of their tissues and organs is drought tolerant. Xerophytes are the BEST drought tolerant plants, shrubs, trees, and cacti.
Cacti and many plants survive on little water and make Xeriscape not only essential but pleasing to the eye. Derived from the Greek word “xeros”, meaning “dry” and combined with landscape, xeriscape means gardening with less than average water.
Many xerophyte plants have specialized tissues for storing water, as in the stems of cacti and the leaves of succulents. Others have thin, narrow leaves, or even spines, for minimizing water loss. Xerophyte leaves often have abundant stomata to maximize gas exchange during periods in which water is available, and the stomata are recessed in depressions, which are covered with fine hairs to help trap moisture in the air.
Drought tolerant plants have adapted by making use of either C4 Carbon Fixation or CAM (crassulacean acid metabolism) a carbon fixation pathway that evolved in some plants as an adaptation to arid conditions.
In a plant using full CAM, the stomata, in the leaves, remain shut during the day to reduce the loss of water as vapor, but open at night to collect carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 is stored and then used during photosynthesis, which is the process of capturing the suns energy.
CAM is particularly good for arid conditions because CO2 can be absorbed at night, allowing the pores on the leaves to stay closed during the day and thus reducing water loss. A easy way to explain it is drought tolerant plants can slow down metabolism.
High elasticity of the cytoplasm and the capacity to withstand compression of the cells during dehydration are characteristic of drought-tolerant plants. What is cytoplasm? An easy definition of cytoplasm is a gel-like casing, covering – containing all the contents of the cell’s organisms, except the nucleus. Most metabolic (chemical reactions) pathways occur in the cytoplasm.
Not to be confused with drought-tolerant plants, Drought Resistant plants are not true desert plants. Many have originated in semi-arid regions, the area around the Mediterranean, Latin America and sub-Sahara.
Here are pictures of drought resistant plants that are not native desert plants.
Lantana, in the verbena family, is a highly attractive drought resistant flowering plant that originated in tropical regions of Africa and the Americas.
This plant has it all: Drought resistant, it looks great, it smells wonderful, and it’s as tough as nails (as long as it’s not too wet). Lavender is in the mint family and originated in the Old World around the Canary Islands, Africa, India, and Asia.
Not only does yarrow tolerate heat and drought like a champion, but this easy-growing perennial is also a great cut flower. Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, originated in regions of Asia and Europe.
There is a difference between drought resistant and drought tolerant plants. Knowing the difference can save you considerable heartache.
Does your tree look like it has a disease? It is common for Mistletoe to invade a host tree and become a parasite. Desert mistletoe is a true evergreen plant and is an obligate (binding) parasite on its host.
Mistletoe is one of the main causes of diseases in mesquite treesand is native to much of the eastern third of the U. S. Mistletoe plant berries are said to be poisonous, but birds do eat them.
Desert Mistletoe or mesquite mistletoe, Phoradendron californicum, is a parasitic plant native to southern California, Nevada, Arizona, and Baja California. It can be found in the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts under 4000 feet elevation. The female Mistletoe plant produces red seeds that the birds love to eat.
Mistletoe seed and red berries are an important part of the desert bird’s diet. The seeds are “sticky” and birds bring them to branches of trees where they perch. The seeds germinate and grow inside the tree. The species most affected are the leguminous trees in the low desert including:
The mistletoe seeds germinate and grow into the tree with sinkers (organs acting much like the roots of a plant). The mistletoe sinkers absorb water and nutrients from the tree host. These mistletoe roots grow inside the tree for some time eventually producing the conspicuous growth of stems, leaves and bulges.
Mistletoe takes a long time to kill a tree but certainly causes decline. Mistletoe infections cause swelling and witches’ brooms (what is called the growth of stems seen in the photo below). Old severe infections may result in swollen areas of dead wood that are brittle and break easily. These limbs should be removed if they pose any danger.
The only way to control mistletoe is to remove it manually. Put some gloves on and remove the mistletoe growth and stems with your hands. Manual removal does not kill the mistletoe because it is growing inside the trees tissue; but good control can be achieved by removing it.
Pruning out heavily infected branches may help… but that decision is usually based on how much can be pruned without destroying the beauty of the tree. Also, it is impossible to know if you have pruned far enough away from the infection to get all the mistletoe that is growing inside the host.
Wrapping pruned sites is not recommended since such procedures do not kill the mistletoe and may easily cause more harm than good to the tree. Sprays sold for mistletoe control will remove the outside growth just as pruning, but they do not kill the part of the mistletoe plant inside the tree.