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Botanical Garden Field Trip Ms. Laura’s Class Located in the Sonoran Desert, in Phoenix, Arizona
What is a desert? A place where there is a shortage of usable water The Sonoran Desert is Located here
2 Categories of deserts:horse latitude and rain shadow deserts Horse latitude or high pressure zone At 30 degrees latitude in both the northern and southern hemispheres, the west coasts of all continents have deserts. These are caused by high pressure zones which result from warm, dry descending air. This downward motion of dry air prevents rain. 30o 30o
Moist air crossing a land mass loses its moisture while passing over mountains. As the air moves upward, it cools and moisture it contains condenses dropping precipitation on the windward slope The air is dry by the time it reaches the leeward side resulting in desert conditions.
Habitats The Sonoran Desert has many different landforms, soil types and moisture. As a result, several habitats (communities of plants and animals) have developed in this area.
Desert Habitat The desert, with its many mountains and valleys, is the largest habitat. These plants can survive on less than ten inches of rain per year.
Mesquite Bosque Along waterways, where ground water is high, small mesquite forests grow. The mesquite tree is an important plant to the desert and the life in it. It is sometimes referred to as the tree of life because it has so many different uses.
Desert Oasis There are valleys in the desert where one can find streams, pools and ponds. Many trees like cottonwood, willow trees, and cattails would otherwise die without these areas.
Semi Desert Grassland On the eastern edge of the Sonoran Desert lie semi-desert grasslands. The elevation is higher and the rainfall is about ten to eighteen inches per year. Many grasses, acacia and yucca plants grow here.
Chaparral The chaparral habitat are mostly in the northern areas of the Sonoran desert at much higher elevations of 2400 to 4100 feet. There is 13-25 inches of rain every year. The juniper and desert spoon make their home here.
Match the Habitat Desert Mesquite Bosque Chaparral Desert Oasis Semi Desert Grassland Check the next slide to see if you’re correct!
Match the Habitat Desert Mesquite Bosque Chaparral Desert Oasis Semi Desert Grassland
What is a cacti? Any succulent plant of the family Cactaceae native to the arid regions of the world and usually having spines. Succulent plant: water retaining plants that store water in their leaves, stems, and roots.
Tonto Basin Agave Agave delamateri This plant looks like a cacti but is actually more related to the Lily. It was first used by the Sinagua Indians. It cannot reproduce by flowers and seeds, instead it uses clones to reproduce.
Clumping cacti with erect light green stems. It has bright pink flowers from February through April in the Sonoran Desert. The flowers close at night and reopen in the morning.
Creosote Bush Larreatridentata
Evergreen shrub which can survive at least two years without rainfall.
It has a sticky resin which has a distinct odor after it rains. The O’odham people used it for medicinal purposes.
This cactus needs some light shade. It gets to be about three inches tall and reproduces by seeds.
It can get a large yellow flower in the spring.
Organ Pipe Cactus Stenocereusthurberi
This cactus species has several narrow stems that grow from a single trunk just above the ground. They can get to be about sixteen feet tall but some have been known to reach up to twenty-six feet. It takes 150 years for them to be fully grown.
Whortleberry Cactus Myrillocactusgeometrizans
This cactus thrives in full sun. It is sometimes called the Blue Candle Cacti. It can grow to be up to fifteen feet tall.
Exiting the Garden As we bid farewell to all of the amazing desert plants, let’s stop and remember how truly beautiful the desert can be.
References Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum (2011) Education and online learning. Retrieved April 10, 2011 from http://www.desertmuseum.org College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (2011) The University of Arizona. Retrieved April 11, 2011 from http://www.ag.arizona.edu Desert Botanical Garden (2010) Retrieved April 10, 2011 from http://www.dbg.org Photo credits: All photos taken by Laura Altmaier unless otherwise specified. Flower photo slide 19 from desert-tropicals.com Map from slide 3: http://www.coursesa.matrix.msu.edu Diagrams on slide 4 and 5 from www.desertmuseum.org