Saturday, November 12, 2016

Flora of Albuquerque

We could all use some pretty plants to look at this week, so here's my collection of plant photos from our trip to New Mexico. Sorry it's taken a month to get up! And I still haven't found IDs for everything, but the relaxing thing about admiring the desert landscape is that I can't grow any of these plants myself so knowing exactly what they are is irrelevant, except for the must-label-now! part of me which I will suppress.

All of these photos were taken in the Sandia Heights neighborhood where we were staying. Here's the view from the deck of our lovely hosts' house:

Only small areas around the houses can be walled in and/or cultivated; the rest is pretty much wild, and the house colors blend in to the environment, so it really makes for a gorgeous landscape in which the human influence is minor. (Also you could see Balloon Fiesta flights from the deck with binoculars. I think some of those dots in the sky might be balloons. Or, you know, dust on the lens.)

Here's some of what we saw on walks around the neighborhood, starting with cactus plants:

Prickly pear fruiting
Different type of prickly pear
Chollas in landscape. Should be coded keys to solve something...

Cholla closeup
Albuquerque is high up and has a temperate climate; yes, there are cacti, but they get snowed on. (After all, we have prickly pears in the East too - I have one in my front yard.) Not all cactus types grow there; if you see something like this:

it's a birdfeeder. (The agaves are fake too.)

This is Cucurbita foetidissima, stinking gourd or buffalo gourd (many other names), which is an invasive pest:

I'm not sure what this plant is, though it looks nightshady:

Here are some more plants I saw on walks:

Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa)

Juniper, loaded with berries


A Datura of the sort O'Keeffe painted

Remains of towering agave bloom
And of course the chamisa (Ericameria nauseosa), and yes, it does resemble heather, though I don't think the smell is nauseating at all. In October it was the bright yellow that pulled the landscape together, as if it had been sown throughout in design.

Yes, I took the walk on purpose on a cloudy day for photographic purposes. I took a few other plant photos on our explorations of various Park Service sites, but they didn't turn out as well in the brilliant sunshine. But this is enough to be going on with. Nice memories! I'm not sure I'd love gardening in this region - the palette is beautiful but limited - but it's fascinating to visit.