Monday, December 29, 2008

Davis Mountains, Part 2 - The Plants

Because the Davis Mountains are in a unique part of Texas, one can see a wide variety of plants. These mountains are in the Trans-Pecos region and include one of the highest peaks in Texas, Mt. Livermore at 8,382 ft. The Trans-Pecos area also includes about 1/3rd of the Chihuahuan Desert. This desert surrounds the mountains and therefore the mountains have often been called a "sky island". Since I'm such a lover of arid plants, I was in my garden heaven. But there are numerous eco-systems in the area: desert scrub, desert grasslands, oak-juniper-pinyon woodlands, and even conifers. So the variety is huge and unfortunately, I didn't have a botanical guide by my side. No matter, I still enjoyed the scenery and took a few photos of some plants I thought interesting.

The photo below is a typical one of the oak-juniper-pinyon area. This was in a roadside park. I love the somewhat ordered array of oaks and junipers among the blond grasses.

Check out the bark on this juniper. It's an Alligator Juniper, Juniperus deppeana. Benny J. Simpson says the most attractive specimens of Alligator Juniper occur in the Davis Mountains.

It's a bit difficult to see in the photo below but can you see the two white rectangular things in the far distance? The things that kind of look like rectangular flying saucers on the desert floor? Well those are gigantic hydroponic the desert!! I always get flipped out by them. Where the heck do they get the water to run those things? You can drive right by them on the road to Marfa and see what I think are tomato plants hanging in them. A more botanical aspect of this photo shows some type of yucca on the right and the lovely grasses that are everywhere.

Grama (Bouteloua spp.) and muhly grasses are common as is bluestem (Bothriochloa spp.). Here are some more grasses that I believe are a Muhlenbergia species.

And how about them desert plants, my favorites? Below you can see several of them: Prickly Pears (Opuntia spp.), Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens), and Agaves.

I have rarely seen the Ocotillo in it's green stage or even in bloom. It gets lovely bright red tubular blooms in spring and/or summer. With rainfall it gets tiny little green leaves. Other times of the year they look dead but still beautifully sculptural.

The Agave pictured is right next to the lodges, to give you some perspective on how big it is. Two years ago when we were here I took way too many photos of Agaves. (I couldn't help myself since it snowed and they looked even prettier then.) But this time I took just this one pic!

Nothing like hiking on top of the world on Christmas Day!


  1. Jean,
    Thanks for sharing these very interesting photos of the Davis Mountains area. I feel like I have been on a nice tour! I particularly like agaves and muhly grasses.

    Hope y'all have a very Happy New Year and all the best in 2009!

    Jon at Mississippi Garden

  2. Hi Jean, wow, what an agave! I know from my visit to Peckerwood that they can grow quite large, but next to the buildings that one is almost scary, in a good way. And the hydroponic greenhouses are a hoot, where indeed do they get the water? So fun, thanks for showing us. Hope your 2009 is the best year ever!

  3. I so much enjoyed this tour! I had no idea about this place, and it is beautiful. It looks like it was perfect weather for hiking, too.
    Best wishes to you for the New Year. You have a wonderful blog.

  4. So nice to find your blog. I hopped over from the Living Naturally blog. I especially love your blooms!

  5. Jean, Beautiful blog. I love the desert, though i live in a flood plane outside of Seattle. I guess the grass is always greener or blonder as the case may be. Keep up the good work. I'll be checking in frequently. D

  6. Though expensive, you can dig wells in Jeff Davis County, there are minor aquifers. Many people use rain harvesting systems and water storage tanks in the mountains at Ft Davis. It's a life style they are used to. Remember in a well-run hydrophobic greenhouse evaporation is controlled and water re-cycled. So this is a way to grow local produce for sale and save on trucking miles.


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