Saturday, June 18, 2011

June in the Sonoran Desert

A hot dry June Sonoran Desert landscape.
There are many words you can use to describe June in the Sonoran Desert.  Hot, dry, dusty, very hot, scorching sun, cloudless, and.. did I mention hot.  Between the Saguaro bloom at the end of May and when the Saguaro fruit finally ripen at the very end of June, not much happens.  Everything seems to get pretty lazy in the intense heat and dryness.  The only real activity seems to happen very early in the morning when temperatures are in the 70's or low 80's.  During this time flocks of doves ride the breezes and other birds and animals can be seen sneaking in a little activity before the sun gets hot around mid morning.  Fortunately, this summer hasn't been quite as hot as it can be, highs have been around 100 and 103 every day lately.  Often we can have highs round 110 this time of year with lows around 80.  Those temperatures are probably coming in the next few weeks.
Palo Verde bean pods ready to have the beans removed and eaten.
June can be a rather interesting month though for the hunter gatherer, if not for the rest of desert life.  During mid-June Palo Verde (Parkinsonia microphylla) beans are ripe for eating.  Mesquite (Prosopis sp.) bean pods are also just beginning to dry out in some locations for harvest.  (I will have a post on these two plant harvests in the next few weeks or so.)  Wolfberry (Lycium sp.), a relative of the Gogi berry, is also ripe in some locations if a decent amount of rain was received during the spring.  Unfortunately, due to the lack of rain this spring though I haven't found any Wolfberry.  Deer and javelina will eat the Mesquite and Palo Verde beans but none of this really seems to help the bugs and birds out much.  Overall, everything seems to be waiting for the Saguaro fruit to ripen and supply huge quantities of sweet calories and water to the desert.  But not to worry, in a week or two when the summer heat is at its most intense, Saguaro fruit will be available in abundance.  Overall though, I think June makes everything living in the Sonoran Desert wonder why it lives their.

Unripe saguaro fruit

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