Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ökenliv (Desert Life 2012 - Part VI ) The Cactus House

Stepping back into the Desert Life Cactus House for a Moment.

The immediate door inside to the left takes you first into a world of humid tropics with all manner of misting equipment, Koi Pond and chirping tropical frogs someone let loose in there years ago. Immediately to the left of that large room was the Desert Life educational center for teaching the average visitor (I presume Swedes mostly) about real Desert Life and uses of various desert plants by the indigenous peoples there. Here are some pics of that room.

Alot of nice colour schemes to match the theme

Large Global map of all desert regions around the globe. On both sides of the global map with to the left various basketry made from the long slender grass leaves of desert plants and to the right much of the desert foods which come from the plants. One very popular was the Prickly Pear Cactus Pad or Beaver tail looking cactus Hispanics call Nopal or Nopales. I love Nopal & the Tunas or red fruits, but most Anglos have never tried them. The wild collected are the best and most flavourful. Mesquite bean pods shown being ground into a flour meal.

Now directly behind me taking this picture of the map was a large TV wide Screen showing a almost 9 minute videos on various plant food preparation. It was silly to take a shot of the screen as there was so much glare, but I did manage to find on YouTube the actually "Desert Life 2012" video that played over and over.

Finally entering the Cactus house and finding many familar faces.

I'd love a less cluttered gardener's Arizona Room to sit in here and enjoy.

Canary Islands Display. These were definitely familar plants to me. On the south facing slopes of the volcanic island of Tenerfie, the region is mostly subtropical desert and these plants thrive in great abunadnce there everywhere you look. Not many people realize that many of their favourite succulants come from these islands. Sadly three of the islands, La Gomera, La Palma and Tenerife are experiencing some of the worst fires in a long time. Certainly a devastating thing considering those islands only have so much room for natural vegetation.

North American Cactus and Agave examples. In fact they have several sections dedicated to North America.

Leave me alone !!!
There are alot of examples of tiny petite cactus, the type you see in novalty stores or Nurseries that create pottery displays. There are numerous examples here as the picture to the right reveals. But sadly when people in the southwest are out exploring and stumble upon one of these beautiful examples, they want to dig it up and take it home. I can understand since where ever I go I am always wanting to collect some sort of speciman seeds of things that look kool to me. But unfortunatelt many of these native Cacti are becoming extinct in many areas where they were once common. Please resist the temptation to collect. go to any of those plant Nurseries and buy some small cute speciman examples raised in Greenhouse Cactus Nurseries. They almost all look alike anyway and usually only the experts can tell them apart.

Well known yellow spined Mexican Barrel Cactus you often see in the Nurseries of the southwest and urban landscapes

Another example of Agave. I'm wondering if there isn't an agave somewhere that would take the outdoors in the right location here. When we came back from Dänemark back in June, we saw a median in the double laned highway through the city of Fredrikshaven that had rather large Blue Agaves. I don't think they were uprooted and stored anywhere and I doubt they cover them. Some agaves are tough and do live where frigid temps and bitter cold are prevalent in the west. Some even grow high up in pine forests on those Sky-Islands as they are called.

I am revealing this shot not show much to display the Beaver tail patterned cactus in the center, but look back at the red coloured wall. Notice on the very left end of that wall at the lower left you see a glass enclosure ? This is the only shot of the cage containing a speckled rattlesnake. When I was up close there was too much Sun glaring off it's surface for an accurate photograph.

Peyote Buttons
I met a young man who works the Tropical & Desert Green Houses and he took me into the back private collection area away from Public access where he showed me a number of plants not on display. Some of the plants can no longer be displayed as some people specifically look for plants with narcotic abilities like the Peyote above. In fact they had these examples in the Rattlesnake cage because theft was common in the outer display area. 

photo by
Another plant not allowed in the public area anymore is the Coca plant from which cocain is derived. Several visitors ARE completely aware of the plants narcotic uses and steal once again the leaf parts of the plant for their personal use. So now they keep it in the back room locked up.

Old Archaic Green House belongs on a Farm.

One last though before living the hot houses and their treasures. This older green house that I had on another post dealing with landscape boulders, stones and other rocks is old and outdated. It belongs on the back of the property somewhere for production purposes only. I would hope one dau they could change all that and create a more eye pleasing and inviting esthetic structure which would add to the beauty of what they have done on the outside for which I heap massive amounts of compliments for their efforts. Of course this takes money and in this ideological Socialist culture obsessed with taxing and feeing everything or everyone to death (sales tax here 25%), it's an even greater Mount Everest-like challenge. Still in the end this is just my opinion. The other area for revenue creation and expansion would be making an even bigger Retail Sales Nursery as I believe the public would support it tremendously. It works for other such Parks around the world, Palm Desert Living Desert Museum as a first rate example. As it stands, they have a voluntary pay system for gaining entrance into the Gardens and most if you observe never contribute. There is no guard at the gate, just a simple old turnstyle. Same with the Green House in the above photo. They have a ticketing machine where entrance fee is 17 Kronor but many walk past and don't pay and they have no attendant to police it. 

More later dealing with the flowers and abundant insects which are everywhere here.




  1. Very very nice:) I'd like to sit in that room. So I went on a tour south yesterday for you with the riparian grasslands in mind. I snapped several shots of the area showing off the green area. It has been a great monsoon this year and everything looks so so nice. Hope you had a good weekend.

    Oh and I've had those Coca leaves in Peru. It makes a great tea:) Great for altitude sickness:) Chris

    1. Desert Dweeler a while back had a piece which alluded to Sacaton in a riparian area of New Mexico. It was beautiful. Those plants are prolithic along the San Pedro and if you ever take a trip to Elgin just south of Sonoita, there are some huge examples in the stream bed there along the old railroad rightofway where pure Sacaton meadows still exist in the moist habitat. There is a winery there if that further motivates you.


      BTW, you may enjoy this link which demonstrates the mismanagement by Giant Cattle Operations in the West where an entirely different ecosystem from the eastern USA and Europe had improper practices forced upon it which actually caused the degredation of what the land use to look like and the abundant biodiversity that once existed and now in many areas completely devoid of.

      Mike Hudak’s - Photo Gallery of Ranching on Western Public Lands


    2. The wine may indeed motivate me:) Sacaton is a beautiful area. As for ranching, several lands that once were use for ranching are now being reclaimed for grasslands again. There are some interesting things going on around Arizona and I have to say that I like this preservation movement going on. Even the Santa Cruz may come back fully...but we shall see:)

    3. When you drive down there to Elgin, just south of there on the Lower Elgin Road which turns into Hwy 83, which itself is or at least was graded dirt road, there is a grassland research preserve called "The Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch of the National Audubon Society". Here is the link:

      One main componant of grassland or prairie health often overlooked is the necessary animals needed for proper maintenance. My son and I drove down alonh this road in 2001 on our backroad way to Fort Huachuka and Sierra Vista. You could see a contrast of differences between the preserve and land still under Cattle grazing management. The problem never was Cattle grazing, but the greed and selfishness from old western corporate interests from Europe and eastern USa who dumped far more cattle than the land and specific ecosystem could handle. We're talking in the 10s of 1000s. Animals are important for renewal, but even nature has controls, most of which have been destroyed and eliminated completely from many areas.


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