Creosote near Isleta/Albuquerque

cactus_dude(Tucson)January 12, 2012

Just thought I'd throw this out there. Recently I drove back home to Albuquerque for the holidays. As I was heading north on I-25 just south of town I noticed there were several mesas just west of Isleta Pueblo with quite a few creosote bushes growing. I think this has to be the northernmost natural population of Larrea tridentata. Having spent most of my life living in Albuquerque, I have never seen creosote growing anywhere on the West Mesa or the Sandia foothills, and certainly not in the valley or north of Albuquerque.

Naturally there are many places in town where they have been planted as a landscaping plant, but no natural stands that I can think of.

As a side note, I recall one summer rainstorm where I could swear I smelled wet creosote, and I wasn't near any planted in my neighborhood. I wonder if it was coming from those creosote covered mesas near Isleta?

cd

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nmgirl(8 S.NM)

More than likely.
BTW- Larrea t. isn't native to NM, it's crept in from the south just like mesquite. But it sure does smells great when it gets any moisture on it!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2012 at 7:55PM
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cactus_dude(Tucson)

Thanks nmgirl. Sorry but I have to disagree with you on creosote and mesquite not being native to NM. While overgrazing has led to populations of both species moving into areas where they were not previously found, they are both Chihuahuan Desert natives. Parts of southern NM are certainly part of that desert. In fact Larrea tridentata and various species of mesquite are so widespread that they are found in all three of North America's warm deserts.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 12:09AM
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nmgirl(8 S.NM)

Chihuahua Desert natives yes, northern part of the C.D., no.

I do wonder what the rock and ground squirrels favorite food was before the mesquite proliferated. Or maybe the squirrels have increased with the plant. They sure love it!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 11:04AM
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cactus_dude(Tucson)

Lol, yeah those mesquite pods must be mighty tasty! And sorry to keep disagreeing with you, but Larrea and Prosopis are most certainly native to the northern portions of the Chihuahuan Desert. And yes, populations or isolated individual plants are sometimes found outside of what is normally considered their normal zone of habitation, such as semi-arid areas of central New Mexico that aren't typically considered to be part of the Chihuahuan Desert. This is especially true of desert transition zones.

Cheers,
cd

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 11:30AM
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fabaceae_native

I would have to agree with cactus dude. You would have to go back many thousands of years to find a time before creosote came to NM.

That population of creosote is well documented, and is indeed thought to be the northeasternmost (and certainly the most cold-hardy) of the species.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 2:25PM
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cactus_dude(Tucson)

Thanks, fabaceae. I didn't realize that population had been documented. It's always interesting to find a plant genus occurring at the furthest limit of it's range.

Also, I've heard reports of specimens of Ferocactus wislizenii found near Socorro. If true, these would have to be the northernmost limit as well.

cd

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 3:35PM
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greyghost61(8b SoWeGa)

I know when I was in the army back in the early 80s we would go to white sands NM and there was creosote bushes everywhere........at least where we were.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 11:23AM
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rdr115

I live in Los Lunas a short ways south of Isleta Hill (just south of Albuquerque I-25 goes up over the eastern flank of the hill) and have always been intrigued at how that entire massive hill--of volcanic origin--is strikingly covered with creosote bush, yet our Los Lunas volcano (El Cerro), many times larger than Isleta Hill, has hardly any that I know of.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 10:54PM
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fabaceae_native

Yeah rdr115, it's certainly a disjunct population, the origins of which I would find hard to believe are due to simple expansion from overgrazing. Creosote seeds are not capable of rapid, long distance dispersal, so that population is probably a relict one from a long long time ago, when the distribution of creosote was quite different from today. In any case, I just love seeing it each time I go that way.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 11:34AM
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quercus_abq(USDA7/Sunset10)

Abq at 7-9" of rain / year is not semi-arid, it's arid.

The 10" number some use is arbitrary, often followed by, "xxx is barely arid". It misses temperatures, humidity, or how different Tucson and Alamogordo at 12" are. Both are arid, just different deserts and different heat / freezes.

This post was edited by quercus_abq on Sun, Feb 8, 15 at 20:46

    Bookmark   February 8, 2015 at 7:52PM
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quercus_abq(USDA7/Sunset10)

People should quit minimizing the Isleta Hill population of creosote as disjunct, outlying, etc. It's within its natural range, tho N part...see link.

Marginalizing creosote from Abq ignores many square miles of urbanization and removal of so much natural. Including reports as recent as 1980.

I'm glad to now live where such things are a non-issue, though El Paso is at the edge of other plants' ranges. Travel NE from here and creosote bushes are few, but loads of sand sage, broom daleas, black gramas, dropseeds, etc...familiar?

Disjunct, out of range, etc for creosote? That's Santa Fe, Edgewood, Farmington, Amarillo. Disjunct for Abq = aspens, green ashes, potentillas, etc.

Guess the location of the below photo?

Here is a link that might be useful: Creosote Bush monographs

This post was edited by quercus_abq on Sun, Feb 8, 15 at 20:11

1 Like    Bookmark   February 8, 2015 at 8:01PM
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quercus_abq(USDA7/Sunset10)

Accidentally posted 2x.

This post was edited by quercus_abq on Sun, Feb 8, 15 at 20:06

    Bookmark   February 8, 2015 at 8:03PM
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