Trees and Shrubs

Hunting for the Elusive Pyxie

Hunting for the Elusive Pyxie

In the spring of 1976, I drove two miles on dirt roads to a remote area of Connetquot River State Park Preserve in New York where I was a biologist. The purpose of my trip was to rediscover a rare plant called Pyxie Moss (Pyxadanthera barbulata). Despite its name and looks, the plant is not […]

Utah Juniper

  Dark green shrubs dot the landscape at Red Rock Canyon on rocky slopes and in the canyon. These plants survive where many would die with the fierce winds, subfreezing winter temperatures, excessive summer heat and bone dry soils. The Utah juniper is well adapted to the desert environment here. Its massive roots makes up […]

Cholla Cacti

  Several species of this cactus is common in the Mojave Desert at Red Rock Canyon. Its needle like leaves also reduces loss of moisture through transpiration and its roots are adept at collecting what little rain falls. It produces fruit eaten by big-horn sheep, chipmunks and rabbits. Birds like to nest in this shrub; […]

Mojave Rabbitbrush

It is autumn and the Mojave Desert at Red Rock Canyon is ablaze in yellow from the blooming of the Mojave Rabbitbrush shrub. When a plant has such showy flowers, it is trying to attract insects to pollinate it. Bees, flies and butterflies come to the flowers to sip nectar and in doing so the […]

Mojave Yucca

This is a common plant of the Mojave Desert where, like many other plants, it has adapted to the water scarce ecosystem. With thick waxy coatings to its leaves to reduce loss of water through transpiration and thick roots to store water, this plant thrives in rocky slopes and mesas of the desert.

The Joshua Tree – A Desert Survivalist

The Joshua tree, named by Mormon pioneers after their prophet, is the signature plant of the Mojave Desert. This is the only place in the world it is found. It is an evergreen plant that can reach a height of 40 feet and live for upwards of 200 years. It endures the harsh, dry desert […]

The Grapes of Cocoa Beach

During a recent trip to Cocoa Beach, Anne and I walked from our small suite to the Atlantic Ocean beach front. Our short hike took us through a dune community dominated by a dense growth of sea grapes, a tree flattened by sea breezes and thriving in the dry sandy soils. Large rounded green leaves, […]