June 3, 2009

Bloomin' stalks

Most of the cacti are done blooming now, and it is time for the yuccas and agaves to strut their stuff. This is the month that all manners of stalks rise up from a number of different plants.

On the agave the stalk rises from the center of the plant very rapidly. I haven't measured but I am sure that the stalk grows several inches a day. Initially it is just a stalk but once it has attained its height, branches fold out with the flowers. Insects and bats feast off these, and the flowers last about a month. It takes the plant so much energy to send up the flower stalk that it dies after flowering. It usually does leave a "pup" at its base to continue the cycle.

The agaves have historically been used by humans for fiber, food, fencing and fermented as a beverage. As a wrangler, Dan once sewed up a guest's blouse after she had torn it on the saddle horn ... One of the thorns along the leaf served as the needle; when you pull off the thorn in the right direction, the thread is already attached.

We also see a lot of blooming yuccas. These plants do not die after blooming and I suspect that whether it blooms or not depends on rainfall. Lots of water makes a huge flower. Bloomed out stalks of one of these yucca species can be used for fencing or as (leaky) ramada covering.

This does not look like a yucca, but more like grass. It is in the yucca family however, but it blooms are more inconspicuous.

Another blooming stalk is the sotol, or desert spoon. These stalks have been used by the Indians as spears and make fine hiking sticks.

I found all these plants on our ride this morning. Dave and Barbara are finishing up the walls on the strawbale house: anchoring the bales, filling in empty spaces, and squaring and leveling the entire structure before trusses go on. Dan and Dave will be working on digging holes for the porch supports tomorrow as there is wind in the forecast.

1 comment:

DJ said...

My brother the tailor? I didn't know that he was handy with a "needle and thread".

Love, Denise