Archive for April, 2014

Blue Paloverde Flowers

Blue Paloverde Flowers

Yes, I know the flowers aren’t blue. However, the host tree, Parkinsonia florida, is commonly called blue paloverde. Damsel took this photo while we were out and about today.

Damsel takes lots of photos of the spring flowers, so let’s enjoy them while we can. Summer will be here soon and there will be fewer flowers, but there will be flowers. Click on the image to enlarge.

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More Bishop’s Cap Cactus Flowers

Bishop’s Cap Flowers

This quintet of flowers opened up today on my Bishop’s Cap cactus in the courtyard. This happy little barrel cactus just keeps on making pretty flowers most of the year. Even though five flowers seems to be a lot, this cactus has had as many as 20 flowers open at the same time. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Foothill Paloverde

Parkinsonia microphylla

This is the first year since we have been here that the little paloverde tree on the road out front has had flowers growing in such profusion. Damsel pointed out that this tree’s flowers are slightly different than the ones she saw at the dog park. The latter are larger with a red spot in the center while these flowers are small with no spot.

I did some internet research on the topic and found there are actually four species and one hybrid that share the paloverde name. The one at the dog park is, apparently, a blue paloverde (Parkinsonia florida). The one out front (and elsewhere on our lot) is a foothill paloverde (Parkinsonia microphylla). Wikipedia describes the foothill paloverde as follows:

Parkinsonia microphylla, the yellow paloverde or foothill paloverde; syn. Cercidium microphyllum, is a species of palo verde.

Parkinsonia microphylla is a bristling, upright-branching tree. The species is slow-growing, sometimes living for several hundred years. It typically grows to heights of around 5 meters (16 ft), although rarely it can reach 6–7 meters (20–23 ft) tall.

The leaves are yellowish green, and during extensively dry and hot periods the tree will shed them. It has the characteristic of performing photosynthesis in its bark (hence the green color), and this is what allows it to survive leafless in hotter periods.

The flowers are found on the end of a branch, small, pale yellow and occur in late spring. The tree may not flower every year, depending on the amount rainfall. If there is enough rainfall, seeds will also appear in 4–8 cm long, soft pods which dip in between each seed. They ripen in July, and stick to the branches. Rodents will often carry and store the seeds underground, where some of them will germinate after a rainy season.

Click on Damsel’s image above to enlarge.

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Global Warming Hits Arizona

flagwx.jpg

More than a month after the first day of spring, a cold front is passing through Arizona today. We’re having breezy, showery weather with temperatures sub-sixties. Both of us (and the dogs) have bundled up a bit, since we’re already getting used to the eighty and ninety degree days of late spring. Shorts and tank tops gave way to sweat pants and hoodies.

The weather in Flagstaff, AZ, shown above, is not typical of this time of year, even at their 7000 foot elevation. Yarnell, AZ, just eighteen miles north of us, is forecasting snow showers this afternoon at their 5500 foot elevation. We don’t expect snow here at 2000 feet above sea level, but the windchill had us scrambling for our winter wardrobe having already been put away.

The good news is that we’re going to see a warming trend in the coming weeks. Tomorrow will be fair enough for me to do some outdoor grilling. We’re looking forward to that.

Meanwhile, the GREENBATS® will blame the weather on CO2, no matter what the actual climate engine brings us.

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Mexican Bird of Paradise

Mexican Bird of Paradise

The Mexican bird of paradise flowers always open sooner than my favorite red birds, but they aren’t nearly as pretty. We don’t have any Mexican birds in our garden, but I have three red birds that are showing vigorous growth of their spring foliage and will be having flowers opening in a few weeks. I took this photo across town this morning while we were between errands. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Curve Billed Thrasher Nest

Curve Billed Thrasher Nest

Some of the best things about living in the semi-rural desert is watching the wildlife and seeing the beautiful cactus flowers. There is always something going on.

I was out in the front yard spraying for weeds yesterday, when I noticed a curve-billed thrasher suddenly flush out of a nearby cholla cactus. I put down the spray bottle to investigate and discovered that the thrashers had restored their nest in the cactus from last year. I peeked in and saw three eggs in the nest. Luckily, I had my Canon SX40 still strapped around my neck and held it above the cholla to get this shot of the eggs in the nest. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Onion Flowers

Onion Flowers

I have a small vegetable garden in pots in the courtyard. I have tomatoes, sugar snap peas, peppers, squash and onions. The flower stalks of the onions are now about two and a half feet tall and the tiny flowers are all opening. I took this photo of the three-inch cluster of onion flowers this morning. Click on the image to enlarge.

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