Portraits of Wildflowers

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Posts Tagged ‘paloverde

Paloverde by dusk and day

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Four years ago this evening, dusk was approaching by the time we arrived in Phoenix’s South Mountain Park, which is the largest municipal park in the United States. As sunlight faded, I used flash to photograph a paloverde tree (Parkinsonia microphylla or florida; there are two local species, and I don’t know which this was). The flash brought out the greenness of the tree’s branches—in fact palo verde means ‘green branch’ in Spanish. The next morning, on our way out of Phoenix, we stopped at South Mountain Park again. It seems that when paloverde branches die, they tend to turn orange.

We learned that paloverdes sometimes act as “incubators” for saguaros (Carnegiea gigantea), giving some degree of protection to the young ones until they get established.

Likewise for barrel cacti.

Did you know that our use of cactus to designate plants like these last two resulted from a mistake? It did. The Latin word cactus, from Greek kaktos, referred to a type of artichoke. Linnaeus, the great 18th-century scientific namer of species, understandably yet mistakenly thought that the spiny plants we now call cacti were akin to the prickly artichoke.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 17, 2020 at 3:40 AM

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