Trees Of Tucson

I was so pleased to see that the most common landscaping plants in Tucson were natives.  There was a small lawn at the place where we stayed, but that was the only non-golf-course lawn we saw during our stay.  Most homes seemed to have desert plants, or no plants at all.  I seem to remember a lot of tired bermuda grass lawns in the Las Vegas and Phoenix areas, so Tucson's more rational approach was heartening. 

Around town, we saw a few non-native trees, the most common being Italian Cypress, Citrus,  and Palms, both Phoenix canariensis and California Weed (Washingtonia robusta), with those  non-natives mostly in the older parts of town.   Unfortunately, also Eucalyptus here and there.  

Behind the building, the Euc:
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Cypress and palm in that narrow strip at the edge of the Airplane Bone Yard, with the gorgeous Santa Catalina mountains beyond.  Beloved was gawking at the airplanes.  I was gawking at the mountains. 
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The most common tree by far was the Palo Verde, genus Parkinsonia.  We saw many very beautiful specimens.  This tree can survive on rainfall alone in Tucson.  
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"Palo Verde" means "green stick"--the bark can photosynthesize, so even when the foliage drops due to extreme drought, the tree can still make use of the sun.  Bursera, another desert genus, can do that, too.
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Looking particularly beautiful in dusky light:
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I was surprised to see another native that I grow in my own garden and almost didn't recognize, Dodonea viscosa.  The leaves in Tucson were smaller than the ones on my plants, and the growth habit was a little more spread out.  
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Nice Dodonea here providing light shade for Agaves.  Looks good with the rocky soil and cacti. 
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The Saguaros, though not a tree, have the height and presence trees normally provide.  They do after all create a forest in the Tuscon area, just one without foliage.  
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There were also Acacias, I think both native and non-native species--I don't know Acacias well.  Chilopsis were also to be seen here and there.
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Big old beautiful tree shading some of the parking spaces at Bach's.  I was so distracted by all the plants I didn't ask what it was.  
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"Mountain Woodland" comprises an ecosystem in areas near Tucson at higher elevations.  The Desert Museum had some lovely specimens of Oak, Hackberry, and other natives.   A desert oak:
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Bubbly bark of the Canyon Hackberry, Celtus reticulata
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This was another desert native, Lysiloma divericata
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Most of the desert natives provide filmy rather than deep shade due to their tiny leaves.  In the desert's bright light and drought, tiny leaves work better than big leaves.  They take less water to support, less energy to produce, and bright sun means less surface is needed to collect the light.
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A good list of trees appropriate for Tuscon at this link, if you're interested.   

Not a tree, rather the dominating shrub of the area, the Creosote bush, Larrea tridentata, had a surprising delicate beauty due to plentiful summer rain this year.  Summer water made the Palo Verdes and Creosotes look wonderful.  Photobucket






 

Comments

  1. Great shots of a unique area. I just love Palo Verde trees. so beautiful and tough

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  2. I really love all those fine-leaved trees. The light shade they cast is what I often wish for in my garden, although I'm sure most wouldn't survive here for multiple reasons. That Celtus reticulata bark is gorgeous!

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