One of the most important trees in our Sonoran desert is the mesquite tree. It is a native to this desert and can be seen in and around Tucson. Mesquite is an interesting tree in that it can provide shade in our hot desert. But did you know that the bean pods(below) can be used to make a flour? Here in Tucson, there are several places, for a minimal cost, that will ground your bean pods up to make your flour so that you can make pancakes, etc. You may also see your dogs chewing these up. Don't stress as they won't do anything to your puppy. They have a sweet flavor and make an excellent food product. Be aware that the Argentine or Chilean varieties are not as sweet and are not as good as our native Mesquite here. The other use of mesquite? You know the answer. It's the wood. When used in grilling meats, etc, it can add that special flavor many people enjoy. For medicinal purposes, the mesquite was used by the native americans for eye drops. They infused water with the leaves to create this eye product. Finally mesquite is also used as a building material. If you are interested in any of this information beyond what I'm writing here today, a great place for detailed things like where to mill your mesquite pods or find certain items, is the Native Seeds/SEARCH organization. For more information contact the Native Seeds/SEARCH here in Tucson.
|Mesquite pods that are ground up can be used as a sweet flour...|
|The prickly pear...the red fruit on top is edible, but if you don't get to it, your javelina or birds will:)|
|The Cochineal Bug on the Prickly Pear Cactus|
|The Agave worm or "gusano" that is used in Mexican cuisine as an appetizer.|
2 more plants to go. As I'm writing these out, I am remembering how much I enjoyed the discussions of these plant groups. The saguaro is a a native to the Sonoran desert and in fact, is the one plant that makes up the look of the Sonoran landscape. It is also used/was used by native americans. Today you can find native americans still picking these sweet and delicious fruits off the cactus. They also have workshops to show people how to do it. The saguaro WAS used in building material but now it is protected and cannot be used at all.
|Note the long stick used to knock the fruit down|
|Once they are knocked down, the sticky fruit is cleaned out to make the jelly|
|The Sonoran Desert taken by yours truly|
While there are more plants out there that are used today by people, these are the top ones that have contributed to our history here in the desert southwest and currently are making headlines around the world. I hope you found this posting interesting. This post serves as an educational look into our desert culture. Some of the pics for this particular blog are not my own except for the mesquite pods, creosote, date palm, the Sonoran desert, and the title pic. Happy adventures!