Sonoran Desert

Sonoran Desert

SONORAN DESERT is a North American desert which covers a large part of the South – western United States in Arizona and California and of North-western Mexico in Sonora, Baja California and Baja California Sur.  It is the hottest desert in Mexico, with an area of 280,  The western portion of the United States passes through the Sonoran Desert.

In phytogeography, the Sonoran Desert is within the Sonoran Floristic Province of the MADREAN REGION in south-western North America, part of the HOLARCTIC KINGDOM of the northern Western Hemispheres.
The Sonoran Desert includes 60 mammal species, 350 bird species, 20 amphibian species, over 100 reptile species, 30 native fish species, over 1,000 native bee species and more than 2,000 native plant species.  The Sonoran Desert area southwest of Tucson and near the Mexican border is vital habitat for the only population of Jaguars living within the US.  The Colorado River Delta, was once an ecological hotspot within the Sonoran Desert, fuelled by the flow of fresh water through the Colorado River in this otherwise dry area, but the Delta has been greatly reduced in extent due to the damming and use of the river upstream.

Sonoran Desert landscape

Many plants not only survive, but thrive in the harsh conditions of the Sonoran Desert.  Many have evolved to have specialized adaptations to the desert climate.  The Sonoran Desert’s bi-seasonal rainfall pattern results in more plant species than any other desert in the world.  The Sonoran Desert includes plant genera and species from the Agave family, Palm family, Cactus family, Legume family and numerous others.

Sonoran Desert sunrise

The Sonoran Desert is the only place in the world where the famous SAGUARO CACTUS grows.  CHOLLA, beavertail, hedgehog, fish hook, prickly pear, night-blooming cereus and organ pipe are other “taxa” of cacti found here.  Cactus provides food and homes to many desert mammals and birds, with showy flowers in reds, pinks, yellows and whites, blooming most commonly from late March through June, depending on the species and seasonal temperatures.

CREOSOTE bush, BUR SAGE dominate valley floors.  Indigo bush and Mormon tea are other shrubs that may be found.  Wildflowers of the Sonoran Desert include desert sand verbena, desert sunflower and evening primroses.  Ascending from the  valley up BAJADAS, various sub-trees such as velvet mesquite and Palo Verde, desert ironwood, desert willow and Crucifixion thorn are common, as well as multi-stemmed ocotillo.  Shrubs, found at higher elevations, include whitethorn, acacia, fairy duster and jojoba.  In the desert, on Baja California ——– elephant tree and BOOJUM tree occur.

Sonoran Desert panorama

The California Fan Palm is found in the Colorado Desert section of the Sonoran desert, the only native palm in California, among many other introduced ARECACEAE genre and species.  It is found at spring-fed oases, such as in ANZA BORREGO Desert Park, Joshua Tree National Park and the KOFA National Wildlife Refuge.

Many wildlife species, such as Sonoran pronghorn antelopes, desert bighorn sheep and the endemic Bailey’s pocket mouse use ironwood, cacti species and other vegetation as both shelters from the harsh climate and a water source.  Other mammals include predators such as mountain lions, coyotes and prey such as black-tailed jackrabbits and round-tailed ground squirrels.

Sonoran Desert sunset

The Sonoran Desert is recognized as a exceptional birding area within the US.  41% of all terrestrial bird species found in the US can be seen here during some part of the year.  Roadrunner (distinguished by its preference for running over flying as it hunts scorpions, tarantulas, rattlesnakes and lizards) is also found here.


4 thoughts on “Sonoran Desert

  1. Pingback: Eddie's Travel Picks: Scottsdale, Arizona - DCMetroTheaterArts

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