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Creosote near Isleta/Albuquerque

Posted by cactus_dude Tucson (My Page) on
Thu, Jan 12, 12 at 18:44

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


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Creosote near Isleta/Albuquerque

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!


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RE: Creosote near Isleta/Albuquerque

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.


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RE: Creosote near Isleta/Albuquerque

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!


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RE: Creosote near Isleta/Albuquerque

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


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RE: Creosote near Isleta/Albuquerque

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.


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RE: Creosote near Isleta/Albuquerque

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


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RE: Creosote near Isleta/Albuquerque

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.


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RE: Creosote near Isleta/Albuquerque

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.


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RE: Creosote near Isleta/Albuquerque

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.


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