Color in the desert

Late spring in the desert is about hope. For months, rain has been absent, and most of the land is a dusty shade of brown. Dead leaves and broken stems await better times. Yet somehow life persists through this period, with flowers appearing and some leaves flushing. In those apparently dead plants remains life. How? Roots and stems store large amounts of water and sugars (think carrot) that the plant can rely upon when environmental conditions are poor. If late spring is the best time to attract pollinators, then late spring is when flowers come out, regardless of climate. The capacity of desert plants to regenerate under adverse conditions is surprising. I recently saw several prickly pear pads laying in a Tucson yard, not attached to any plant or root system. These were the debris of a cold snap that broke many cacti. Yet on these pads, I saw several new pads growing, as if the plant was willing itself to live. Perhaps the owner will take pity and re-root them.

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