Tuscon Area-February 2017

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Tuscon Area-February 2017

Post by tsharp » Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:18 pm

NTS: Susan and I spent the week of February 6, 2017 in the Tuscon, Arizona area. The main purpose of the trip was to attend some of the exhibits and dealers at Rock, Mineral and Gem show.
I also did get to visit several sites if the area and measure a few trees.
We camped for the week at Catalina State Park north of Tuscon at Oro Valley. Nice campground with pristine bathhouse and unlimited hot water.

Trees measured included:
Saguaro cactus (Carneiga gigantea) ** x 37.8', 13 second order arms, 8 third order arms.
Desert Willow (Chilopsis linerea) 5.5' x 32.2'
Velvet Mesquite (Prosopis velutina) 4.6' x 28.3'
Velvet Ash (Fraxinus velutina) 10.6' x 19.6', top out
Netleaf Hackbery (Celtis laevigata var. reticula) 4.3' x 19.6

Desert Willow

Click on image to see its original size

Seed capsules of Desert Willow

Click on image to see its original size

We paid a visit to the Tohonoa Ghul Botanical Garden. It so happens we picked a free admissions day which was appreciated.
Sonoran Palmetto (Sabal uresma) ** x 33.3'
Yellow Paloverde (Parkinsonia microphylla) 2.5' x 27'
Saguaro (Carneigia gigantea) 4.7' x 19.3', 5 second order arms
Canyon Grape (Vitis arizonica) 1.0' x **

I spent most of a day on the campus of the University of Tuscon. The campus is an also an arboretum on 400 acres with 8,000 tagged specimens . Examples of plants and trees from arid regions around the world can be observed.

Italian Cypress ( cupressus sempervirens) *** x 86.8'
River Redgum (Eucalyptus canaldulensis) 12.2' x 81.6'
Arizona Cypress (Hesperocyparis arizonica) 5.8' x 81.6'
Fremont Cottonwood (Populus fremonti ssp. metesae) 9.9' x 79.9'
Washington Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta 4.3' x 73.1'
Afghan Pine ( Pinus brutia var. eldarica) 6.2' x 69.2'
California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera) 5.4' x 62.9', 9.0' x 46.3'
Mountain Cottonwood (Populus brandegeei) 4.9' x 57.9'
Oriental Arborvitae (Platycladus orientalis) 4.8' x 56.4'
Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis) *** x 54.8'
Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix carnariensis) 4.1' x 48.9'
Cork Oak (Quercus suber) 5.2' x 43.8'
Durango Emory Oak (Quercus durifolia) 3.6' x 43.4'
Soaptree Yucca (Yucca elata) *** x 15.8'

We took a short hike on a trail in the Rincon Mountain District of the Saguaro National Park which is on the east side of Tuscon
Saguaro (Saguaro gigantea) *** x 37.5', 6.8' x 33.2' with 7 first order arms, 14 second order arms
Jumping Chain Cholla (Cylindropuntia fulside) 1.6' x 9.1'

Next stop was the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum
Saguaro (Saguaro gigantea) 5.5' x 32.6'
Desert Ironwood (Olenya tesota) 3.2' x 27'
Boojum Tree (Fourquieria columnaris) ** x 25'
Catclaw Acacia (Acacia greggii) 2.1' x 23.3'
Mexican Blue Oak (Quercus oblongifolia) 2.6" x 15

The Boojum Tree is native to Baja North and South States of Mexico. It got its name from the Lewis Carroll poem "Hunting of the Snark". I just had to reread it after many years
It is related to the Ocotillo( Fourquieria splendens) which is found in the drier regions of the American Southwest from West Texas to Southern California.

Boojum Tree

Click on image to see its original size
Last edited by tsharp on Thu Jan 25, 2018 9:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Tuscon Area-February 2017

Post by dbhguru » Thu Jan 25, 2018 10:31 am


Your excellent post reminds us of the species richness of arid areas, which in turn is a tribute to the adaptability of plants.

Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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Larry Tucei
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Re: Tuscon Area-February 2017

Post by Larry Tucei » Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:06 pm

Turner- Wow the Italian and Arizona Cypress are really tall. Would love to see are those areas. The Desert is such a diverse place. Larry

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Re: Tuscon Area-February 2017

Post by Rand » Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:53 pm

Just out of curiosity, how did you go about learning a whole new group of diverse flora?

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Re: Tuscon Area-February 2017

Post by tsharp » Sun Jan 28, 2018 12:11 pm

Somewhere in my ramblings I bought two books. Shrubs and Trees of the Southwest Deserts (by Bowers and Wignall) and Shrubs and Trees of the Southwest Uplands (by Elmore and Janish). Cost $2.50 each at some visitor center shop . Some what dated but found them useful but I have never seen them for sale since my purchase in 2004.
When possible stop at arboretums, gardens that specialize in desert plants.
The main think to keep in mind is to pay attention to which desert you are in and at what elevation. Plant ID becomes interesting when you find yourself at the intersection of two different deserts(ecosytems). I paid a visit to the Chisos Mountains 2002 in Texas and wish I had these references.
Compared to tropical areas plant ID is fairly easy in deserts.

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