Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Carlsbad canyons

with 10 comments

No, the title isn’t a typo or thinko: I meant Carlsbad canyons. While almost everyone goes to Carlsbad Caverns National Park to see the caverns, the road in from the highway passes through some scenic canyons whose grand scale makes them worth stopping for in their own right, as we found out on June 14th. It’s a harsh land of little rain, where many plants have a hard time making a go of it.

One plant that thrives there is Dasylirion wheeleri, known even in English by the name that the Spaniards took from the Aztecs: sotol. Below you see a sotol flower stalk (which people joke is so tall).

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 22, 2017 at 5:08 AM

10 Responses

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  1. A very useful plant to have in arid conditions. Have you tried sotol?


    August 22, 2017 at 5:54 AM

  2. I’d rather look at canyons than caverns any day, and admire a tough survivor like sotol.


    August 22, 2017 at 8:39 AM

    • I didn’t remember the canyons from our visit in the 1990s. This time they impressed me. As for the caverns, let’s wait and see if the next two posts give you some things to like underground.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 22, 2017 at 8:52 AM

  3. It’s fun seeing a closeup of the sotol. From some of your other photos, like this one, I wouldn’t have imagined such complexity.

    I made a detour once to visit Carlsbad to see the bats, but I don’t remember the canyons at all. That first photo’s interesting. I can see the entire image as one vertical cliff, or as a plain stretching out, with the cliff in the distance. But my favorite detail is the thread-like tree. Its delicacy is a nice contrast with the stolid cliff.


    August 24, 2017 at 6:49 AM

    • I’m glad you mentioned seeing a plain stretching out with a cliff in the distance. Knowing the reality, I wouldn’t have have interpreted this photograph that way, but now I see the potential for that optical illusion.

      It’s not unusual to find sotol planted in Austin, well outside its natural range. Local specimens have provided an opportunity over the years for even closer views of the flowers than what you see here. Maybe someday I’ll show one of those closeups.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 24, 2017 at 7:04 AM

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