Bear referred to the plant as “devils walking stick” which I’m sorry to say is not the proper name for ocotillo. Devils walking stick (Aralia spinosa) is a non-desert plant and even though I’m up on many of my plant names, I could never drink a cup of rodent poo tea like Mr. Grylls does in one episode of his show.
Watch Bear drink some yummy tea.
Ocotillo (Fouquieria Spendens) has long stalks with sharp stickers and will grow green leaves when it rains. When water becomes scarce the plant drops its leaves to prevent moisture loss. The coolest aspect of ocotillo is the bright red blossoms that grow on the ends of its stems. I was amazed to see the blooms this spring as we have had no rain in over three months. The desert is certainly full of many amazing surprises
The highlight of this trip is the desert willow (Chilopsis linearis), a beautiful flowering tree that you would never expect to see growing in the Chihuahuan Desert. Many people think of deserts as lifeless and ugly, but I’m here to prove otherwise.
Read my post: The Lifeless Desert
This morning, I begin my hike by strolling up a sandy dry wash while the dogs take off to sniff. I can see Mammoth Rock to my left and a caprock straight ahead. Soon the desert willows appear. They love these arroyos because they hold water a little bit longer than the surrounding desert. I stop to get a few close-ups of the buds and flowers. Beautiful!
I continue up the wash and then stop at some boulders to take some photos of the dogs. They always love our off leash adventures and I enjoy the company.
After a little more hiking I decide to turn around and head back. Earlier I passed a channel coming into the main canyon drainage. It was there that I saw a very large desert willow full of blooms and I want to get a closer look.
When I arrive at the channel I can see, in the distance, a humming bird enjoying the nectar of the willow blossoms. I climb up on some rocks and sit and watch for a while. A huge bumble bee of some sort is also busy at the tree. The humming bird doesn’t like the competition so chases the bee off.
After a morning of enjoying all that nature has to offer, I’m ready for a hot tasty beverage. After all, it is only 7am and I could use some caffeine about now. I’ll forgo the poo tea and scoot back home for a pot of Joe.
gambel’s quail is crossing the road and then we see his mate following. Never a dull moment in the desert southwest!
See you on the trail.