by Peter Lapshin
|CULTIVAR / КУЛЬТИВАР|
e-Magazine about exotic forms of Cactaceae
ENGLISH / RUS-(Win1251)
Mojave Desert Cacti
by Vladimir Malov, California USA
Mojave Desert Cacti
This article and accompanying pictures are a result of a short four-day trip to the general vicinity of Las Vegas. I had hoped to make the trip in May during the flowering season, but only managed to make it in October. Two of the four days were devoted solely to looking for cacti. I have revisited couple of locations and checked out some new places.
Las Vegas was the starting point of my whole adventure, since Sin City is strategically located only hours away from Joshua Tree, Death Valley, Zion and Grand Canyon national parks, as well as dozens of smaller federal and state parks. Las Vegas is a good base for any cactus enthusiast looking to explore the deserts of the US Southwest.
This desert region is part of the Mojave Desert ecosystem, but it is located at its extreme northeastern corner, bordering the colder Big Basin and the warmer Sonora deserts. Non-typical summer rains do happen here occasionally, and at higher elevations winter temperatures stay below freezing for extended periods of time. The defining plant of the Mojave Desert – the Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) – is actually not all that common around here.
My passion with cacti has started about 30 years ago. For the last five years I live in California. Every time I move the collection has to be basically started over, so the current one is very young, has only several hundreds of plants and rather eclectic. As a bonus this time I have the California weather and backyard space for a small greenhouse where I wanted to try growing different kinds of cacti many of which were prohibited by northern climates in Russia. Lately my interest leaning more towards Mammillarias and Echinocerei.
I pay quite some attention to photography - of cacti, and of landscapes. California is known to be the place with a huge variety in scenery - the landscape photographer haven.
My cactus trips have started at around year1999 and came at first place in connection with my other life-long passion – rock climbing. Plants in nature amused me mainly with a huge difference in "traditional" culture and the habitat growing conditions with hot dry summers and cold dump winters, rocky sandy soils with no much earth in it – and this all for the plants of American South-West known for their "gentleness". How seedlings survive there is another complete mystery.
My new trips are limited by the free time. In close proximity by car are Southern California, Arizona with Saguaro and Organ Pipe Cactus parks, Utah and Nevada. Mexico is also not too far away, especially Baja California known for its distinct cactus world.
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