Plant Families, Trees And Cacti
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Plant Families, Trees And Cacti



Plant Families of the SW Desert

Plant Families of the SW Desert



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    Plant Families, Trees And Cacti Plant Families, Trees And Cacti Presentation Transcript

    • PLANT ID Taxonomy Credits: All photos from “Desert Ecology of Tucson, AZ” by Brad Fiero, PCC
    • Important Plant Families in the Sonoran Desert
      • Cactaceae--Cacti
      • Fabaceae—Palo verdes, mesquites
      • Agavaceae—Agaves, yuccas
    • Fabaceae (Legumes)
      • Legume or pea family
      • Includes
        • Trees: Mesquites
        • Shrubs: Dalea
        • Wildflowers: Senna
    • Leaves
      • Main role is photosynthesis (food for plant)
      • Three leaf parts:
        • Blade
        • Petiole
        • Expanded leaf base
      Picture from Desert Ecology of Tucson, AZ by Brad Fiero
    • Blade structure
      • Simple:
        • Blade is simple
      • Compound:
        • Blade is divided into leaflets
    • Types of compound leaves
      • Palmately compound: leaflets radiate from a common point; like fingers from the palm of a hand
    • Types of compound leaves
      • Pinnately compound:
        • Just primary leaflets
      • Bipinnately compound:
        • Primary and secondary leaflets
    • Fabaceae (Legumes)
      • Common features
        • Pea-like flowers & pods
        • Pinnate & bipinnate compound leaves
        • Fertilize soil
          • Add nitrogen to the soil by mutualistic relationship bacteria in root nodules
        • Act as nurse plants
        • Trees provide wood & shelter
    • Agavaceae
      • Agaves, yuccas, etc.
      • Evergreen leaf succulents with sharp-pointed leaves arranged in a rosette around a very short stem
      • Provide food, shelter and alcohol
    • Agavaceae
      • Agaves:
        • 12 species in AZ
        • Most flower once in a lifetime between 10 & 30 years of age
        • Pollinated by bats
    • Agavaceae
      • Yuccas
        • Flower annually (most in May)
        • Mostly pollinated by Yucca Moth
      • Cacti are endemic to the Americas
      • All are succulents (but not all succulents are cacti)
    • Cact-eristics
      • Areoles – place where spines, branches, and flowers come from
      • Petals and Sepals intergrade with each other
      • Flowers have many stamens
      • Flowers have multi-lobed stigma
      • Most use CAM photosynthesis
    • Cact-eristics
    • Cact-eristics
      • 6 major cactus groups
        • Columnar
        • Barrel
        • Hedgehog
        • Pincushion
        • Cholla
        • Prickly Pear
    • Cact-eristics
      • Columnar
        • Cylindrical stems
        • Pleats run from bottom to top
          • 10 times taller than wide
      • Barrel
        • Cylindrical stems
        • Pleats run from bottom to top
          • Less than 10 times taller than wide
          • Flowers from top of stem
    • Cact-eristics
      • Hedgehog
        • Cylindrical stems
        • Pleats run from bottom to top
          • Less than 10 times taller than wide
          • Diameter less than 5” and less than 12” tall
          • Flowers from side of stems
          • Spines not hooked
    • Cact-eristics
      • Pincushion
        • Unbranched cylindrical stems
        • Don’t have pleats
        • Species in Sonoran Desert less than 6” tall
        • Central spines from areole often hooked
    • Opuntia
      • Cholla
        • Branched cylindrical stems with jointed segments
      • Prickly Pear
        • Have flattened, pad-like stems with jointed segments
    • Opuntia
      • Seeds have tan covering instead of shiny black of other cacti
    • Catclaw Acacia
      • Grey or brown scaly bark
      • Leaves compound bipinnate
      • Curved, sharp spines
      • Pale yellow flowers in late spring
      • Make a tea from roots for stomach and kidney problems
    • Whitethorn Acacia
      • Bipinnate compound leaves
      • White spines on young branches, none on old branches
      • Fragrant bright yellow flowers
    • Desert Ironwood
      • Up to 35’ tall
      • Gray bark, lots of cracks. Wood chocolate brown
      • Pinnate compound leaves
      • Sensitive to frost – found almost only in Sonoran Desert
      • Dense wood that sinks in water
      • Grows extremely slowly
    • Velvet Mesquite
      • Bipinnate compound leaves
      • Pods start green turn yellowish-brown
      • Deepest taproot – up t o160’
      • To germinate, passes through animal gut, or needs several years of weathering
      • Important food source
    • Foothills Palo Verde
      • Yellowish-green smooth bark
        • Allows tree to drop leaves in drought (drought deciduous) and can photosynthesize with its bark
      • Bipinnate compound leaves
      • Branches ends in a thorn, but no spine beneath leaves like in Blue Palo Verde
      • Largest petal in 5-petaled flower is white
    • Blue Palo Verde
      • Yellowish-green smooth bark
      • Small, straight spines hidden under leaves
      • Leaves bipinnately compound with three or fewer secondary leaflets per primary leaflet (vs. four or more in Foothills Palo Verde)
      • Flowers in spring before Foothills Palo Verde
    • Saguaro (Ha:san)
      • May live over 200 years and reach 75’
      • Begin to flower at about 50 years old and branch between 50 and 100 years
      • Branches increase chance for pollination since flowers are at the end of branches
      • Everybody loves the fruit and seeds
      • Consistent fruit production even in times of drought
    • Fishhook Barrel Cactus (Jiawul)
      • Commonly 2 – 4’ but can be taller
      • One barrel shaped stem
      • Hooked central spine from areole
      • Bloom in late summer
      • Yellow fruit stay on plant for long time
      • Taller plants tend to lean towards the Southwest
    • Hedgehog Cacti
      • Up to 20” tall
      • Multiple ribbed stem
      • 2-4 central spines (one longer than the others)
      • 12-14 shorter radial spines
      • Spines are never hooked
      • Flowers are purplish
    • Fishhook Pincushion Cactus
      • Commonly 6” or less
      • Pink flowers that grow in a ring; bright red fruit
      • Stem is not ridged
      • Central spine is hooked
      • Densely packed spines from areoles
      • Can have single stems or large clusters
      • Often found under nurse shrubs and trees
    • Prickly Pear Cacti (I:ibhai)
      • From 1’ to several feet high
      • Flattened, jointed pads
      • Flowers last one day
      • Pads and fruits can be eaten
      • Can reproduce from seed, or from fallen pads
      • Several species in Sonoran Desert, with Engelmanns the most common
    • Jumping (Chain-fruit) Cactus
      • Up to 8’ and taller
      • Green fruit that stay on plant for long time and form in long chains
      • Reproduce mostly from stem joints and fruit rind areoles
      • Joints are loosely joined so if lightly brushed appear to jump
    • Teddybear Cholla
      • 3-6’ tall
      • Trunk is dark and nearly branchless
      • Branches occur near top of plant
      • Fruit are yellow and spineless
      • Reproduce from joints where they fall on ground
    • Staghorn Cholla
      • Similar to Buckhorn cholla, but fruit is spineless or lightly spined and stay on plant for more than a year
      • 3’ – 15’ tall
      • Stem is green to purplish in color
      • Used for ciollem
    • Buckhorn Cholla
      • Similar to Staghorn cholla, but fruit and buds are covered by spines
      • 3’ – 15’ tall
      • Stem is green to purplish in color
      • Used for ciollem
      • More common on Tohono O’odham reservation than staghorn cholla
    • Christmas Cholla
      • Grows to 2’, but taller if inside other shrubs
      • Segments thinner than pencil cholla
      • Fruit bright red and stays on plant through winter
    • Pencil Cholla
      • Can grow to 9’ tall, but usually less
      • Each areole has 1 – 4 spines
      • Longest at over 1” and downward facing