Archive for the ‘Debbie Bird’ Tag

Not Everything In The Sonoran Desert Has Thorns and Spins   Leave a comment

Star Fern & Ressurection Plant-72Star Ferns and Ressurection Plants On the Bluff Trail Above Sabino Creek — Image by kenne

Most people think of the desert as being a hot, dry and barren place which is totally inhospitable to the likes of ferns, mosses, and leafy plants.  Nonetheless, all the above-mentioned species thrive here in the Sonoran Desert. There are many varieties of ferns growing in the desert climate. The desert ferns are true xerophytes (a plant that has adaptations to survive in an environment with little liquid water, dry loving).  These ferns have evolved several strategies to thrive in our warm, dry climate here in the southwest.  They can shrivel and go dormant for many months, they begin life in rock fractures and other moist sheltered areas that provide a microclimate for early growth. Other characteristics of desert ferns are reduced surface area (small leaflets), leathery leaflets, thickened leaf margins, waxy, hairy or fuzzy coatings, and scales on stems. Does this sound like some of the water-saving adaptations of other desert plants?  You bet! We’ve heard about these adaptations for many other desert plants such as creosote, mesquite, ocotillo, Brittle Bush, so why not the ferns too? (Debbie Bird, Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalist)

The plants at the top of the above image are Selaginella lepidophylla is a species of desert plant in the spikemoss family. Known as a “resurrection plant”, it is renowned for its ability to survive almost complete desiccation. During dry weather in its native habitat, its stems curl into a tight ball, uncurling only when exposed to moisture.

— kenne

Hiking Blackett’s Ridge In The Light Of The Full Moon   5 comments

At the end of one of our naturalists training sessions last October, Phil Bentley said he would be hiking Blackett’s Ridge late the following day to see the sunset and the full-moon rise on top of Blackett’s Ridge in Sabino Canyon, then hike down in the moonlight. Cool idea, I thought.  As it turned out, I got the gathering time wrong, so Phil and I did the moonlight hike, but not together. It was a gorgeous moonlit night. (Click here for posting on last October’s hike.)

Since October, we have talked about doing the moonlight hike again. Last week we agree to do another moonlit hike, this time together, with an invitation being sent to all SCVN.

Debbie and Jerry

At the gathering time in the Sabino Canyon’s center parking lot, with Phil as our leader, Debbie and Jerry Bird, Tim Ralph and I set off to see another beautiful sunset to the west over the Tucson Mountains and full-moon rising over the Rincon Mountains.

With the skies partly cloudy, we couldn’t help but ponder the “what if’s” of more clouds moving in. The sun continued to occasionally peep through the broken clouds to the west, but the clouds to the east were minus the “broken” adjective.

The amount of clouds created a photographic challenge, but not to be daunted, I persisted capturing a few photos, all be they are dark and ominous — probably of things to come.

Phil playing his harp and Tim taking photos — Images by kenne

With the sun setting, and minus the expected moonlight, darkness was coming on quickly. Having a bite to eat and some water, while Phil serenaded us on his harp, we decided to start the hike down the ridge. The return pace was slow, as we stepped carefully down the steep slopes and navigated the many trail switchbacks. With little light, at times the footing was treacherous, and as fate would have it, on one of steep slopes, while placing my right foot on solid rock ground, I place my left foot on what turned out to be loose gravel — down I went, quickly pulling my camera to the front of my body. Because of the downward angle of the trail, it was a short fall on my butt. However, my backward momentum carried me into a large prickly pear cactus, an encounter not expected. Even with three layers of clothing, many of the prickly pear spines penetrated my upper left arm. I’m now award that this cactus comes armed with two kinds of spines; large, smooth, fixed spines and small, hairlike prickles called glochids. Removing my wind-breaker removed many of the glochids, but most of the large spines remained in my arm, since our only source of light was a flashlight. So, the spine removal task became Joy’s upon my return home. What’s the saying, “There’s always a first time for everything.” So be it! In case you are wondering, we are already considering another moonlit hike. 


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