Desert Arboretum

Visiting my family this week in St. George, Utah has been a lot of fun.  The landscape is one hundred eighty degrees different than the Washington view.  Here it’s red and dust, there it’s green and moist.  Here it’s sparse and prickly, there it’s lush and mossy.  The hot sun blazes too brightly in Southern Utah and in the Pacific Northwest it’s a soft warm glow.  Here I turn away from the glare and there I raise my face to the sun, soaking it in.  I found a fascinating tree on a short walk through the local desert arboretum.  The Screwbean Mesquite Tree or Prosopis pubescens has a unique seed pod.  It looks like a fat screw, or a plump insect larvae. The Mesquite is the most common tree in the desert Southwest.  Like other members of the Legume Family, it’s a nitrogen fixer.  Finally I found out how these plants can survive in this dry, dry climate.  The Mesquite has a taproot that can be larger than the trunk.  Because it burns slowly and is smokeless, mesquite wood is one of the best in the desert.  The seed pods are eaten by wildlife and were used by Native Americans for tea, syrup and a ground meal called Pinole.

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