What is the small tree with yellow flowers and round leaves in Arizona? The Caesalpinia mexicana, Mexican Bird of Paradise, is a flowering plant species in the pea family, Fabaceae. This drought tolerant, perennial tree is native to Mexico and the extreme lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas.
All parts of this Mexican plant are poisonous. The showy Mexican Bird of Paradise shrub thrives in dry conditions. Once the roots are established, they are drought tolerant.
If you are looking for a small shade tree that is flowering and easy to care for; the Mexican Bird of Paradise is perfect for your yard and a good choice for xeriscape desert gardens.
Caesalpinia mexicana, Mexican Poinciana, does best in full sun. It is a perennial flowering tree that is heat resistant; with rounded leaves and spikes of solid yellow flower clusters. The fragrant yellow flowers of this Bird of Paradise are very showy and will bloom throughout the year! The USDA Hardiness Zone is 9.
In the photo ABOVE see the rounded shape of the leaves and the yellow flowers.
The “Red Bird of Paradise”, – commonly but mistakenly called (The Mexican Bird of Paradise), – has Red, Orange and Yellow Flowers. See the Picture below.
The Mexican Bird of Paradise bush can be pruned and trained into a small tree.
How to grow bird of paradise plants from Bean Pods
Germinating the seeds for this Mexican Bird of Paradise will be easy! Simply soak the seeds from the bean pods in water for 48 hours or like many people use a damp paper towel. If you are using the paper towel method to germinate your seeds-when a white shoot appears-plant it with the white shoot facing DOWN.
To plant and grow your bird of paradise — plant the seed in peat pots. Cover the seeds lightly with damp vermiculite or your choice of a good soil.
Bird of Paradise seeds need at least 8 hours of sun, but not direct sun it will be too hot! You can start to give them a little more direct sun after the first leaves appear.
Peat Pots are great and make growing and transplanting your Mexican, Yellow or Red Bird of Paradise seedlings much easier. Start your seeds indoors and when you are ready to plant your Bird of Paradise just put the entire pot in the ground. Roots will penetrate the peat potand the pot disintegrates enriching the soil.
Honey and Velvet Mesquite Trees can take the extreme heat and the cold! This tree grows fast. What is the most common tree of the Desert Southwest? It is the Mesquite! Like many members of the Legume Family, mesquite trees restore nitrogen to the soil.
There are 3 common species of NATIVE mesquite trees: Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens ), Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), and Velvet Mesquite (Prosopis velutina).
These native trees are extremely drought tolerant. Honey Mesquites are more rounded with big, floppy, drooping branches. The foliage is feathery and straight – paired with sharp spines on twigs.
This tree normally reaches 20–30 ft, but can reach as tall as 50 ft (15 m). The growth rate is medium. Honey mesquite coppices (it will make new growth from a root or stump if it is cut down), making permanent removal extremely hard. If a single trunk is cut down the Honey Mesquite will replace it with a multiple trunk version.
The Honey Mesquite has pale, yellow, elongated spikes and bears straight, yellow seed bean pods. In this picture you can see how long and strong this mesquite’s spikes are. I’ve learned NOT to wear flip-flops when walking around our Honey Mesquite!
Caring for mesquite trees is a simple process after the tree has fully matured. Mesquite trees need a full day’s worth of direct sun light to grow. Make sure to plant your mesquite tree in a place where it will always have a lot of quality sun.
Good staking is crucial to the mesquite tree, especially in areas with severe summer storms, monsoon season, or high winds.
The shade from these native Arizona trees create a 10-15 degree cooler temperature!
The shortcoming of a Chilean or Honey Mesquite tree is wind damage. Proper staking and proper watering can help you avoid wind damage with your mesquite trees.
Make your Mesquite trees “seek out” water and nutrients by careful arrangement of your irrigation emitters and scheduled DEEP irrigation. This will develop a more dispersed root system and reduces the risk of wind throw.
Pruning will keep your tree from becoming messy, while stimulating new growth on those branches that you pruned. The dead, diseased, broken or weak branches, drain the Mesquite tree’s energy.
Mesquite bean pods are rich in carbohydrates and have very low moisture content, making them an excellent source for harvesting, processing, and storage. A variety of animals eat the seeds such as quail, dear, javelina, coyotes, squirrels and rats.
Historic records have indicated that almost every part of the mesquite tree has a use. The Pima Indians of southern Arizona referred to the mesquite as the TREE OF LIFE.
During the inevitable droughts and deprivations of desert frontier days, the mesquite trees served up the primary food source for caravans and settlers. Mesquite beans becamemanna from heaven.
Medical studies of mesquite trees and other desert foods, said that despite its sweetness, mesquite flour (made by grinding whole pods) is extremely effective in controlling blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
Mesquite trees have lateral roots that extend far beyond the canopies of the plants and tap-roots that penetrate well below the surface of the soil. Some mesquites may live for more than two centuries; according to U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.
(Prosopis Velutina) Velvet Mesquite is the most common of the North American varieties, it ranges from southern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and most common to the Chihuahua and Sonorandeserts of Mexico.
Velvet Mesquite Trees are a deciduous plant that benefits by being able to retain moisture during the winter or exceptionally dry seasons better because water does not escape through the leaves. These Mesquite trees have elongated bean pods that are sweet to taste when ripe ( reddish-yellow color). This native tree has thorns with varying lengths even on the same branch.
For the first year, deeply water your mesquite tree every week or so until it has properly matured. Once your velvet mesquite tree has matured, it can survive with a little supplemental water in addition to natural rain. In case of droughts, do water your mesquite trees more often.
Velvet Mesquites hold the record for deepest root (160′); these tap-roots can tap into deep, underground water supplies that aren’t available to the average plant.
The seeds of mesquite trees need to be scarified (abraded in flash flood or digestive tract) to germinate. Coyotes, and other desert animals eat the bean pods regularly.
It is spring and the male mourning dove labors hard to set up his territory. When this male bird is ready to mate, he circles in a courtship flight and chases other doves from the area he desires to nest.
To attract a female mourning dove, this determined handsome bird perches in an open area and sings a “passionate” coo sound that is louder than his usual call.
The Coooo bird call is mostly voiced by the male mourning dove and not the female. Once he has charmed a mate, the doves pair for life.
To hear the dove’s coooOOO sound, click on the short YouTube video below:
Doves mate primarily from spring to fall but are able to mate year round and produce several clutches of young. These love birds are tranquil and elegant.
**Unfortunately, the Mourning Dove Nest can hardly be called a “nest” – generally these beautiful birds just throw a few twigs somewhere and begin setting up their flimsy nest.
The nest is constructed over the course of 2-4 days with the male and female mourning doves working together.
With a hanging basket on our porch, it didn’t take long before a couple of mourning doves took up residence. AKA Turtle Doves have been known to reuse the same nest over and over. Commonly raising 2 – 3 broods per season. Researchers found that the basics for constructing the bird nest are mainly instinctive, but birds can improve their skills with experience.
So, you spotted a dove’s nest with two milky white eggs. When will the dove eggs hatch? The incubation period for Mourning Dove eggs is 14-15 days. Then another 2 weeks for the squabs to leave the nest.
One white egg is laid in the evening, and the female dove lays the second egg in the morning.
The day shift is handled by the male dove and the female incubate during the night shift. If you do not see the doves change shifts, it can seem that the same dove has been on the nest the entire time.
***In our experience, we have seen the male and female doves change places around sunrise and sunset.
The dove chick, “hatchling”, squab pictured below is one day old. Both eyes on the newborn bird are closed.
Males and female doves work together to feed their newborns crop milk or “pigeon milk” for the first few days of their life. The dove’s Crop Milk is rich in fat and protein. Adult mourning doves secrete the milk and regurgitate it to their little ones.
The dove parent opens its mouth wide permitting the nestling to stick its head inside to feed on the nutritious food.
How do you tell if the male or female dove is in the nest?
With a trained eye you will be able to tell the difference. Male Mourning Doves have a bluish crown and nape, and a rose wash to the throat and breast. The crown and nape of the female dove is grayish brown, and the throat and breast has a brown or tan wash.
Mourning Dove Nestlings will fledge in about 12-14 days. The bird parents continue to care for the dove fledglings for about another 16-20 days.
**Please NOTE: Doves are more flighty than other birds and may abandon the eggs or nest if you bother them too much.
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.
The exotic color pattern of the gila monster (pronounced – Hee la) is black with pinkish or yellow spots and bands. Its unusual skin is beaded in appearance. Native to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and Mexico, the Gila Monster is a species of venomous lizards. This lizard is named for the Gila River in Arizona where they used to be abundant.
Towards late summer, gila monsters become active after thunderstorms. Although this lizard is venomous, it moves very slow and represents very little threat to us humans. People often kill gila monsters due to fears; even though it is protected under Arizona state law.
If you encounter a Gila monster remain calm. This lizard will move on if left alone. Alert anyone in the vicinity and keep your pets away. For questions or advice call your Game and Fish Department.
Do not worry or have fears; the Gila monster tries hard to avoid humans and other large animals. To warn off potential predators, gila monster lizards will open their mouth very wide and hiss.
What to do if you are bitten by a gila monster? — A Gila monster bite is painful to humans but rarely causes death. The biggest problem you will have is trying to get the lizard to release its grip! The bite is strong, you may need to fully submerge the biting lizard in water to break free from the bite. If there is no water, you can use a stick to pry the gila monster’s jaw open. Be careful after you have dislodged it.
Remain calm if bitten and get to a medical facility immediately. Remove all jewelry from the bitten limb and keep it below heart level. DO NOT use a constriction bandage or a tourniquet on a gila monster bite.
The Gila monster eats primarily reptile eggs, frogs, insects and worms – feeding only five to ten times a year in the wild. They have poor eyesight but an extremely acute sense of smell which they use to locate prey. The sense of smell of the gila monster is so keen that it can accurately follow a trail made by a rolling egg.
They live in burrows, thickets, and under rocks with ready access to moisture. Gila Monsters are solitary and live in desert and semidesert areas. They are inactive much of the time. When spring arrives, gila monsters begin to hunt again. During the summer the lizards only come out in the evening.
Breeding season for Gila monsters is usually early summer. The female digs a hole, lays a clutch of oval-shaped eggs. Four months later, the baby Gila monsters break out of their eggs and crawl to the surface. The Gila monster may live up to 20 years in the wild, or 30 in captivity. This heavy, slow-moving gila monster, is the only venomous lizard native to the United States and one of only two known speciesof venomous lizards in the world, the other being its close relative, the Mexican Beaded Lizard.
The beaded lizard is larger (2-3 feet in length) than the Gila monster (up to 2 feet in length); but has duller coloration with black and yellowish bands. The Mexican beaded lizard’s venom contains enzymes used in manufacturing drugs to treat diabetes. Once again people kill these lizards because of fears and superstitions. The beaded lizard is protected by Mexican law and it dwells within the range of several protected areas.
In 1952, the Gila monster, Heloderma suspectum, became the first venomous animal in North America to be given legal protection; it is illegal to “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect the Gila Monster. Gila monsters are listed as Near Threatened.