“Talk low, talk slow, and don’t talk too much.” – John Wayne (1907-1979), Advice on acting

Monday, December 01, 2014

Desert Forest

When visiting Las Cruces, New Mexico recently to celebrate my Dad's 89th birthday, Lynne and I were given a tour of a nearby park which features the natural fauna of the surrounding desert. Las Cruces, is at an altitude of 3900 feet and sits at the base of the Organ Mountains and is considered "high desert" country.

Photo of the park with the Organ Mountains in the background.

Perhaps the most common type of cactus in the area is the Prickly Pear cactus, which comes in many varieties:

One variety is the Mule's Ear cactus:

Here is a dead Cholla cactus:

I think this is a live one:

Of course, there is the Barrel Cactus, also with many varieties:

Plenty of Creosote Bushes and Mesquite, too!

Yucca:

And Century Plant:

The most interesting part of our tour, hosted by a good friend of my parents' -- Delton Estes -- was finding some Chochilla (Cochineal, in English) bugs on some cacti. These bugs live in a cacoon-like web and feed off the moisture and nutrients in the cactus. The Spanish began the practice of farming these bugs and harvesting them for the deep red dye they can produce -- a color that later became popular in the Roman Catholic Church. A Wikipedia reference is found here.

Note the white on the cactus below? Pull it off and squeeze it to get the dye.

Many thanks to Delton for the informative tour!

Tags:  naturetravelphotos
Posted under: Travel • by Rick on 12/01/2014 at 08:59 AM
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