March 14, 2017, Superior- No doubt about it, this area has me hooked. Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, a combination of Desert Botanical Garden and the Prescott Circle Trail, is the centerpiece of an intensely spiritual region. Queen Creek, which runs through the park, on the south side, has carved Arizona’s best-kept secret, in its network of canyons. Picket Post Mountain, to the west, watches over the Arboretum, like a strong big brother. The people I met, from a gentle wanderer who is exploring all the National Forests west of the Mississippi, to a vibrant,passionately caring barista, exuded the sort of spirituality that comes from tapping into the extant energy field that is found in places that stay close to their natural origins.
I will present Boyce Thompson Arboretum in three segments: This first post looks at the various desert plants, from all corners of the world, with an emphasis on the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts, which are closest to the central Arizona highlands, in which the park exists.
The next post will feature Lake Ayer and the terrain around Picket Post House (Boyce Thompson’s residence) The last will take in the High Trail and the west end of Queen Creek Canyon.
Here are four scenes of the Sonoran Trail, which offers the flora of Arizona, Sonora (MX) and Baja California.
This is a Fire Barrel Cactus, found in both the Sonoran and lower Mojave Deserts.
Maguey de Pulque is the source of a medicinal fermented beverage, popular first with the indigenous people of northwest and central Mexico. It was originally used to relieve intestinal discomfort.
Palm trees, of various types, are found throughout the deserts of Mexico. This San Jose Hester Palm is found only in Baja California.
Here is a testament to the full botanic splendour of the Sonoran Desert, holding its own with the exhibits of Desert Botanical Garden (Phoenix) and Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum(Tucson). The flowering has not reached its peak, but anticipated rains, next week, may change that. I may even catch some of the colours, when I am here next, on April 1-2.
The Curandero Trail, named for the traditional healers of Mexico, focuses on medicinal plants, both of the Sonoran and of the Chihuahuan Deserts.
Desert lavender has a calming effect, similar to that of its cousin, in the temperate climates to the north. Here it is, in a dry tributary of Queen Creek.
Snakeweed, seen behind the informational sign, had a wide variety of uses, from treating snakebite to serving as a laxative for horses.
Boyce Thompson Arboretum has an extensive catalog of course offerings, on the uses of desert plants. I am likely to make good use of those courses, in the intermediate future.
Finally, here are a few South American and Australian desert scenes.
This is a Toothpick Cactus, from Argentina’s Gran Chaco.
The Chaco, like the Sonoran Desert, gets quite verdant, with winter rains (July).
The interior of Australia is, as is widely known, a place for only the hardiest of man and beast. This water tower is indicative of what might be found in a swagman’s camp. Swagmen herded livestock, in oases of the Outback.
Here are eucalyptus trees, found in the eastern part of the Outback.
This gum tree does not supply chicle, as its Mesoamerican and African cousins do, but did give swagmen a supply of resin, for their workaday adhesive needs.
This is, of course, a minute sampling of what is in store for the visitor to Boyce Thompson. Two greenhouses, just shy of the park exit, offer sensitive African and Arabian desert flora. These will have their own segments of the park, in the near future, as will Central Asian and Mediterranean plant life.
Next up: Geology’s Turn to Dazzle