03 Dec Learning how Forgiving the Seemingly Unforgiving Sonoran Desert is.
I always viewed the desert with respect for all of the involved flora and fauna developing such unique and remarkable adaptations to the hostile environment they live in. The desert comes across as brutal and unforgiving with its sharp, venomous, and lethal inhabitants.
The desert comes across as anything but forgiving, yet the desert is rich with mutual support and forgiveness.
These same “sharp” inhabitants like the daunting tall giants of the saguaros, were nursed into existence by “sharp” mesquites and palo verde to name a few of the “nursing trees” young saguaros rely on. The formidable spikey trees also provide shelter for the slow-growing giants in their initial slow growth. First, the nursing trees provide shade and shelter and then fertilizer and nourishment to the soil after their death while the gentle giants the saguaros outlive their nursery trees to become giant nurseries themselves.
The Saguaros also provide homes for birds, arachnids, and a variety of wildlife. Similarly, they nourish a variety of other wildlife with their fruit and flowers. Including bats, birds, bees, and other pollinators. The birds in turn spread their seed from the fruit they eat and help the saguaro in return for the food. The birds become their own type of nursing maid.
It has been recorded that in instances of the harsh winters of the Sonoran desert Venemous sleepy snakes like rattlesnakes can find shelter in borrows alongside tortoises and even their prey like Pack rats. Huddling together in dormancy escape the cold of the harsh winter together.
Chollas sharp and menacing could also be described as thorny protection to their packrat friends who build up almost fortresses for home with the fallen pieces of cholla. In turn for a formidable fortress under and with the cholla, the limb-propagating cholla gets its own limb propagations spread in the process by the packrats building tendencies. In return for shade and protection, the packrats become their own type of nursery maid for the Chollas by spreading their limbs to become potential extensions of the Cholla.
The desert is a biome is held up by the interwoven symbiotic relationships its inhabitants create allowing for much forgiveness in the middle of such an unforgiving climate and environment. Below I will include examples of Saguaros and their nursery trees they have outgrown. I also included an uncommon occurrance of one cactus actually finding a home in another. You can see this in the image second from the right where you can see a Prickly Pear cactus finding a home in the arms of a Saguaro.