Tuesday, November 26, 2013

11/24 Anza-Borrego Desert Plants

From a distance, the desert looks beautiful, but mostly dead. 

A lot of the shrubs and plants look dead also.  Here is one, I can't identify right now, but if you look closely you will see a few leaves and some red flowers.  Not dead at all.  Just waiting for rain.

The most common bush in this desert is the creosote bush.  It smells like creosote when you touch its glossy leaves. The waxy coating on the tiny leaves keeps the moisture from evaporating.

To conserve moisture, a lot of plants have very small leaves or no leaves at all.  Here is an ocotillo which looks dead from a distance, but when you get up close, you find leaves directly on the stems.

This one is called a burro bush, and it has very small leaves.

And the paloverde bush has no leaves at all.  It has green stems which perform photosynthesis in place of leaves.
Cactus also have no leaves, and most have thorns to keep animals from eating the fleshy parts where they store water.  Here is a barrel cactus and another with fruit. 

 And two kinds of cholla.  The first is a Ganders cholla and the second is a diamond cholla.  Both look very sharp! 

There is another, fuzzy-looking cholla called the teddy bear cholla that I have personal experience with.  It looked so soft, I touched it and had to use duck tape to get all the fine spines out of my finger.  Ouch!

Did you know California has a native palm?  It is called the California Fan Palm or Washingtonia Filifera.  You can identify it by the thick trunks.  There is fossil evidence in Anza-Borrego desert that this palm has been here for 5 million years!  These below are wild and were not planted. 


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