Thursday, February 01, 2007

New Mexico Life Forms

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New Mexico Wildflowers

New Mexico Thistle "Desert Thistle" Cirsium neomexicanum (Composite-Asteraceae) is a robust biennial that is covered with prickly foliage and bears dense clusters of showy, pinkish-lilac flowers. Lesser goldfinches love the seed, and others use the downy seeds for nesting material. The Navajo used the plant as a treatment for chills, fever, and as an eye wash.

Scarlet Penstemon P. barbatus ssp. torreyi (Snapdragon-Scrophulariaceae) has pale to deep rose flowers along tall stalks, up to four feet. Leaves are fray-green, prominently toothed, and fused around the stem.

Shortstem Penstemon P. breviculus (Snapdragon-Scrophulariaceae) � 6 to 8 inches high plant with narrow leaves and blue-violet flowers.

Skyrocket �Scarlet Gilia� - Ipomopsis aggregata (Phlox-Polemoniaceae) this tallish plant has trumpet shaped red flowers with dots on the base of its five points.

Trumpet Gilia �Blue Trumpets� - Ipomopsis longiflora (Phlox-Polemoniaceae) spectacular long thin pale blue trumpets up to two inches in length, with five petals spreading at the tips. Grow on a low branched cluster of thin sparsely leaved stems. The more water they have the longer the trumpets. Flowers were used to make a lather for body sores, and fever.

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Annual Buckwheat Eriogonum annuum ( Buckwheat�Polygonaceae) a cluster of small white flowers at the top of a tall stem with white woolly leaves.

Pale Wolfberry Lycium pallidum (Potato-Solanaceae) a low growing shrub like plant with red round fruits. Flowers are greenish white.

Wandbloom Penstemon p. virgatus (Snapdragon-Scrophulariaceae)-Tall stem, narrow leaves that droop down near the flowers, white to pink center petals with red lines.

Purple Mountain Penstemon P. strictus (Snapdragon-Scrophulariaceae) a clumped purple Penstemon.

Sacred Datura Datura wrightii (Nightshade-Solanaceae) is a sprawling, large leaved perennial with large trumpet shaped flowers, white tinged with purple edges, and are pollinated by Hawk moths. All parts of the plant are poisonous, although Native Americans used it for visions (chewed roots), sore throats (brewed seeds), and a poultice of the leaves were used to treat boils.

Yarrow (Achillea lanulosa) white perennial.

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Fleabane Daisy �Spreading Fleabane� - Erigeron divergens (Composite-Asteraceae) is a low growing plant that has a flower head about one inch in diameter, clustered at the stem tips, with white petals , narrow rays, and a bright yellow disc in the center. Leaves are narrow, linear, and hairy.

Spectacle Pod �Pepper Grass� Dimorphocarpa wislezeni (Mustard-Brassicaceae) is an annual mustard with a hot pungent flavor. White flowers from clusters around the stem tips and grows to a height of 1 � feet, and has multiple branches. The abuadant, round, flat, two-seeded fruits persist on the plant for weeks. The Tohono O�odham ate the seeds and parched, fried, and stored them for winter use. Others ate the whole plant, fresh or dried, and used it to flavor meat.

Dune Primrose �Bird Cage Primrose� (Evening Primrose-Onagraceae) is about 6 inches tall, up to two inches across, with pure white flowers with yellow centers. The prominent, cross shaped stigma is characteristic of the genus. Blooms open in the early morning, and have a sweet smell that attracts Hawk moths that pollinate them. As the plant dries the outer leaves curl inward, forming a cage-like structure that gives rise to its common name.

Wright�s Verbena Glandularia wrightii (Valerian�Valerianaceae) � rose pink to purple flower clumps, 5 tiny petals each, thin branched leaves, fussy pod at the base of the flower head.

Hooker�s Evening Primrose Oenothera elata (Evening Primrose-Onagraceae) is a yellow flower with a wide blossom that is also pollinated by the Hawk moth. When placed in a garden setting and well watered, it grows 4 feet tall and covered with profuse blooms.

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Pink Evening Primrose Oenothera coronopifolia (Evening-primrose�Onagraceae) small new flowers are white, turn pink with age. Short serrated leaf clump with leaves up the stem.

Palmate Globemallow Sphaeralcea digatata (Mallow-Malvaceae) is a common perennial with bright orange blossoms and five petaled grey green leaves. Fruits are edible, as well as pollen and seeds. The plant can be boiled and added to gypsum as a glue for calcimine house paint. Pulp of the plant can be mixed with mud to make hard floors. Roots were pounded and mixed with saltwater for a poultice for infection, or plastered over broken or fractured bones, solidifying into a hard cast.

Desert Paintbrush Castilleja applegatei (snapdragon-Scrophulariaceae) is a perennial with multiple stems with sticky bright red orange bracts becoming greenish at the base. The lower leaves are unilobed, and densely white and hairy. Plant resembles a cluster of scarlet-dipped artist�s brushes.

Foothills Paintbrush Castilleja integra (snapdragon-Scrophulariaceae) � Long thin leaves and a bright red flower cluster at the top. Acts as a parasite on Grama grass roots, and thrives best if the two species grow together. It was used in combination with other plants to color deerskins red, and was used with minerals to produce black paint. The blossoms can be eaten, and a bathing solution made from the whole plant would relieve aches and pains.

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Red Stemmed Filaree �Crane�s Bill� - Erodium cicutarium (Geranium-Geraniaceae) a low growing highly invasive weed which grows in a rosette has purple pink flowers in small clusters on stalks up to 6 inches. These become needlelike, spiky fruits that look like a Crane�s Bill. As the fruits dry, they curl into corkscrews, when moisture comes they uncurl and drive the seeds into the soil.

Curlycup Gumweed Grindelia nuda var. aphanactis (composite-Asteraceae) branched stemmed sticky plant with dense, sticky, yellow flower heads with no rays. Pharmaceutical uses include waxes and resins, and a source of acids and alkaloids used for kidney problems, skin abrasions, and sores. Sticky blossoms can be placed on an aching tooth. Flowers can also be used for yellow dye.

Blue Flax Linum Lewisii (Linum-Linaceae) is a perennial with profuse sky blue flowers at the top of a two foot stem. The shiny petals bloom early in the morning, and drop during the heat of the day. The Navajo used it to treat headaches and heartburn. The fibrous stems were used to make string, cordage, baskets, and mesh for show shoes. The seeds were eaten.

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Scorpionweed �Wild Heliotrope� Phacelia intergrifolia (Waterleaf-Hydrophyllaceae) is a common annual with a reddish branching stem. The flowers are pale blue to purple and are borne on coiled spikes that look like a scorpion�s tail. Leaves were boiled and eaten, and powdered root or leaves were mixed with water for sprains, swellings, and rashes.

Wild Potato Solanum jamesii (potato-Solanaceae) has white five petaled flowers and their fruits are about the size of grapes. They can be boiled or baked like potatoes, or eaten raw. Short-stemmed Lupine Lipinus brevicaulls (Legume-Fabaceae) has clusters of stems with hairy leaves and tall flower stalks in clusters with royal blue flowers.

Indian Parsley cymopterus bulbosus (Parsley-Apiaceae) low growing perennial with soft green leaves in a cluster along the ground and smell like celery. Flowers are a single cluster of four sided pink pods. Natives used the leaves like parsley.

Yellow Salsify Tragopogon dubius (Composite�Asteracae) has yellow ray flowers on a multi-branched stem that contains a milky juice.

Manyheaded Groundsel Senecio spartioides (Composite�Asteraceae) � this annual has yellow petaled flowers born on clusters of short branched stalks.

Purple Aster Machaeran theya canescens (Composite � Asteraceae) � fall blooming prolific plant with flowers with purple rays and a yellow disk.

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Yellow Ragweed Bahia dissecta (Composite�Asteraceae) has branched leaves on short stems with multiple yellow flowers with fringed fat petals.

Gaillardia "Indian Blanket" � G. pulchella (Composite�Asteraceae) is a medium tall plant with yellow or maroon fringed petals.

Annual Sunflower Helianthus annuus (Composite�Asteraceae) a tall flower with yellow rays and a purplish disk. Stalks and leaves are covered with stiff hairs. Flowers are used by Natives today for decoration during corn and harvest dances. Seeds were eaten raw or ground into flour or crushed and cooked as mush.

Banana Yucca Yucca baccata (Agave�Agavaceae) Wide pointed leaves, white flower stalks.

Great Plains Yucca �Soapweed Yucca� � Yucca Glauca (Avave-Agvaceae) �narrow pointed leaves with multiple white flower stalks. Used for food, and soap.

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Day Flower Commelina dianthifolia (Spiderwort-commelinaceae) � found in pinon-juniper woodland, three blue petals on 6 inch stalks, pointed leaves with drooping wider leaf coming from leaf base.

Pine Spiderwort Tradescantia pinetorum (Spiderwort�Commelinaceae) purple three petaled blossoms with purple hairs on stamens, grow on thin stalks with pointed leaves.

Spiderwort Tradescantia occidentalis (Spiderwort�Commelinaceae) clusters of purple flowers with 6 petals, three narrow ones in back of three wider ones, blooming at the top of a thin stem with horizontal pointed leaves below the flower cluster.

Hairy Golden Aster Heterotheca villosa (Composite�Asteraceae) a multi branched flower on a single tall stem. Has yellow flower petals and blooms in late July.

Prairie Cone Flower �Mexican Hat� - Ratibida columnifera (Composite�Asteraceae) a cone shaped flower with yellow or maroon petals at the base of a dense cluster of stems.

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Dagger Bindweed Convolvulus arvensis (Goosefoot�Chenopodiaceae) a low growing multi clustered vine, invasive with white to pink morning glory type flowers with a purple tinge along the edge of the blossom.

Wild Candytuft Thiaspi montanum (Mustard-Brassicaceae) Short white flower clumps on a single stem.

Rocky Mountain Bee Plant Cleome serrulata (Hemp-Cannabinaceae) tall multi branched lavender flower clumps on a single stem. Smells terrible, flower pods hang down like pea pods. Greens were eaten as a green vegetable, much like spinach. Older leaves are cooked to a thick paste and sun dried for cakes, which also could be reconstituted to provide black dye (Guaco) for pottery and baskets. The whole plant was dried and ground for flour, mixed with cornmeal, and baked in ashes into �cleome cornbread�.

Horehound Marrubium vulgare (Mint-Lamiaceae) � square stemmed bushy plant with white flowers.

Four-O�clock Mirabilis multiflora (four-O�clock �Nyctaginaceae) reddish purple flowers at the top dark green leaf clusters on a multi branched clump of stems.

Stemless Evening Primrose Oenothera caespitosa ( Evening Primrose�Onacraceae) white low growing cluster of white petals on a single leaf cluster. Blooms early in the morning.

Prairie evening primrose Oenothera albicaulis ( Evening Primrose�Onacraceae) a taller white primrose with thin serrated leaves growing up the stem.

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New Mexico Cacti

Cactus family (Cactaceae) includes: Arizona pincushion (Corypantha vivipara), Claret cup (Echinocereus triglochidiatus), Walking Stick Cholla (Opuntia imbricata), Plains Prickly Pear (Opuntia macoriza), New Mexico Prickly Pear (Opuntia phaeacantha) - Flat stout-spined stems arranged in a jointed series of pads which produce edible fig sized fruits called �Tunas� are singed over fire to remove the spines. Pads are also edible with spines removed.

New Mexico Grasses

Grass family (Graminiae) includes: Slender wheat grass (Agropyron trachycaulus), false quack grass (Agropyron pseudorepens), rough bent grass (Agrostis scabra), beggar tick grass (Aristida orcultiana), Arizona threeawn (Aristida arizonica), red threeawn (Aristida longiseta), pine dropseed (Blepharoneuron tricholepic), blue grama (Boutelous gracilis), cheat grass (Broaus tectorus), wolftail (Lycurus phleoides), spile muhly grass (Muhlenbergia wrightii),Indian rice grass (Oryzopsis hymenoides), sand dropseed (Sporabolus cryptandrus), needle and thread (Stipa cosata).

New Mexico Shrubs

Fringed Sagebrush Artemisia frigida (Sunflower�Asteraceae) Perennial which produces seeds. Silvery blue fine leaf clusters up the stem. Yellow flowers with long hairy bracts. Used for sheep feed.

Fourwing Saltbush Atriplex canescens (Goosefoot�Chenopodiaceae) irregularly branched, spiny dioecious (male and female plant parts on separate plants) shrub with thick grey-green canoe shaped leaves. A valuable forage shrub that grows on alkaline land, and tends to grow near ruin sites. The seeds were ground and cooked as cereal, leaves eaten raw or dried for flour. Ashes were used to make lye to soften corn hulls. The pointed hard twig ends were used for arrowheads. Hand fulls of male blossoms can be crushed and used for soap, or ant bites.

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Wax Currant Ribes inebrians (Saxifrage-Saxifragaceae) Medium size shrub whose fruit may be dried or eaten fresh.

Apache Plume Fallugia paradoxa (rose-Rosaceae) medium size angularly branched shrub that blooms with five petaled roselike blossoms, which are followed by a showy display of feather pink seed plumes, resembling pom-poms. Slender straight branches were used for arrow shafts, and brooms. Petals can be eaten to relieve stomach gas. Roots were used for cord to tie fencing and make armadas.

Pale Wolfberry �Tomatillo� � Lycium pallidum (potato-Solonaceae) a deciduous plant during winter and draught. The flowers are about an inch long, creamy green and funnel shaped. Orange-red berries resemble tomatoes. It is found by ruins, due to its preference for disturbed soil. Seeds were used for food, fresh or dried, and reconstituted leaves were applied to cuts. Bits of the root are planted with corn to keep worms from eating the seeds.

Rabbitbrush �Chamisa� � Chrysothamnus nauseosus (sunflower- Asteraceae) Young twigs and leaves are covered with a fine white wool, giving the plant a grayish-green appearance, with dense clusters of yellow-green flowers. It is one of the earliest to green up in the spring. Yellow dye was made by boiling crushed blooms. Tea from leaves was used for stomach disorders. Galls form on the twigs because insects like to deposit their eggs on them.

New Mexico Trees

Gambel Oak Quereus gambeli (Oak�Fagaceae) has deeply lobed leaves and is found in clusters along rocky hillsides and bears somewhat sweet acorns that can be ground into a meal for mushes or cakes. Boughs were used for making trays, weaving sticks, digging sticks, clubs, tool handles and bows or arrow shafts.

Alligator Juniper Juniperus deppeana (Cypress-Cupressaceae) has thick alligator skin like bark.

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One-Seeded Juniper Juniperus monosperma (Cypress-Cupressaceae) has tiny scalelike aromatic leaves and hard, bluish, pea-size berries. It has shreddy bark and a large single seed encased in its berry. Used for food, medicine, construction, and crafts. The berries were a food staple, eaten raw or stewed, and to season meat and stews. Tea from the berries is a diuretic and leaves used in tea are for colds, stomach disorders, constipation and rheumatism, a stimulant and if strong an emetic.

Rocky Mountain Juniper Juniperus scopuiorum (Cypress-Cupressaceae) usually contain two seeds in their berries. Juniper bark is boiled and bathed in to relive itch from spider bites, and powdered bark was used for earache.

Ponderosa Pine Pinus ponderosa (pine-Pinaceae) the largest native evergreen tree in the area, often growing to 125 feet, and can live over 300 years under favorable conditions. Needles are five to ten inches long and in bundles of three, with a tiny papery sheath around the base. The bark sometimes smells like vanilla. The soft inner bark (cambium) can be chewed for nutritional value, or pounded and ground and then leached with water to remove the bitterness. Needles were a cold sore remedy, and a decoction or boiled concentrate of the root was drunk for urinary problems. Beams were used for main roof supports (vigas) for the Anasazi, and the wood was used for cradleboards.

Pinon Pine Pinus edulis (pine-Pinaceae) has a rounded crown and irregular shape. Pinon nuts are formed in the cones and were the most valuable local plant food source for primitive peoples. They have three thousand calories per pound, and its protein, on a per pound basis, is comparable to steak, containing all twenty amino acids. Pueblo families still collect and sell the nuts, and two people can harvest up to 150 pounds per day, equaling 70 pounds shelled. A blue-green turquoise paint was made by boiling the gum. Glue was made from warming the pitch, and used to set stones in jewelry settings, and to sinew bows. The pitch was powdered and sprinkled in wounds as an antiseptic, or mixed with tallow or wax and placed on a wound will draw out infection. It can be chewed as a gum or swallowed for clearing the head during a cold.

Chokecherry Prunus virginiana (rose-Rosaceae) small tree or shrub that has clusters of small white flowers. The wood was used to make bows. Bark was used for cough medicine, and roots ground and sprinkled into wounds. The cherry like fruits were used as food.

New Mexico Locust Robinia neomexicana (bean-Favaceae) the only species of wild Locust, they droop with masses of pink-purple blooms in early June. Branches are tough and elastic, good for bows. The uncooked flowers were added to the native diet.

New Mexico Wildlife

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Birds Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Coopers Hawk, Prairie Falcon, Ferruginous hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Turkey Vulture, Burrowing Owl, Great Horned Owl, White-throated Swift, Violet-green Swallow, Tree Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, Canyon Wren, House Wren, Bewick's Wren, Rock Wren, Golden Eagle, White-crowned Sparrow, Brewer's Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Sage Sparrow, Black-throated Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Lark Bunting, Brown tohee, Rufous-sided Tohee, Green-tailed Tohee, Lesser Goldfinch, American Goldfinch, House Finch, Cassin's Finch, Lazuli Bunting, Lewis woodpecker, Flicker, Acorn woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pygny Nuthatch, Pinyon Jay, Scrub Jay, Steller's jay, Common Raven, Mourning Dove, Rock Dove, Greater roadrunner, Plain Titmouse, Bushtit, Mountain Chicadee, Black-capped Chicadee, Evening Grosbeak, Blue Grosbeak, Common nighthawk, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Borad-tailed Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Common Flicker, Acorn Woodpecker, Rocky Mountain Bluebird, Western Bluebird, Swainson's Thrush, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Sage Thrasher, Orioles, Western Tanager, Hepatic Tanager, Summer Tanager, Northern Orile, Scott's Oriole, Brown-headed Cowbird, Red-winged Blackbird, Western Meadowlark, House Sparrow, Virginia's Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-throated Warbler, Townsend's Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Wilson's Warbler, Gray Vireo, solitary Vireo, Cedar Waxwing, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Western Kingbird, Cassin's Kingbird, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Say's Phoebe, Gray Flycatcher, Wesrtern Flycatcher, Western Wood Pewee, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Dusky flycatcher, Hammond's Flycatcher.

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Mammals Black Bear, Mule Deer, Coyote, Prairie Dog, Bobcat, Lynx, Mountain Lion, Kangaroo Rat, assorted mice, Wood Rat, Porcupine, Badger, Cottontail Rabbit, Jack Rabbit, voles, squirrels, chipmunks, bats, shrews, Pocket Gopher, and an occasional skunk.

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Reptiles Texas horned toad, Spadefoot toad, Collared lizard, Black-tailed rattlesnake, Salamander.

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Insects Sphinx moth, Sowbug, Centipede, Spider mite, Dragonflie, Grasshopper, Cicada, Aphid, Mantidflie, Ladybird beetle, Wild Honeybee, Wasp, Trantuala Wasp, Trantuala.

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