May and June are the harshest time here in the Sonoran desert. The temperature reaches 100° by mid-May and mostly stays there all through June. The days are clear and sunny and dry. Nothing was moving out there during the day, except me and the camera, looking for anything blooming. There wasn’t much to find.
In May, the hesperaloes put up stalks of flowers.
They’re called Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora), and sometimes Hummingbird Yucca. Mine never get to the hummingbird stage though; the flowers stay closed for so long.
When they finally open, the hummingbirds probably get only a few minutes to enjoy them, because it seems like the deer think these flowers are candy, and chew off all of the flowers immediately. I watched these plants for days, waiting for the flowers to open so I could get a good picture, then — poof! — they’re all gone. Just the stems left.
The mesquite trees also bloomed in May.
I have three species of mesquites in the yard, although they also cross-pollenate like so many plants in the desert. The ones pictured are the Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), and will become tasty bean pods that provide a large part of the summer diet of the local wildlife. Once those pods drop, they don’t last very long sitting on the ground! If I had more of them, I’d take them to one of the millers in Tucson and have them ground into flour; they’re leguminous, members of the pea family (Fabaceae), and have a high nutritional value.
I also have a few Velvet Mesquites (Prosopis velutina) which are more common here in the neighborhood, and which also produce a good bean-y fruit, but smaller and not as sweet as the Honey Mesquite. My third species are Chilean Mesquites (Prosopis chilensis), which aren’t producing fruit for me, but do make a mess all over the front yard (shed bark, numerous broken twigs and general leaf-litter). The Chilean Mesquites are (obviously) non-native, but they grow fast, so they’re used in local landscaping. If they hadn’t already been here, I would not have chosen them for the yard. Someday I’d like to replace them with ironwoods. Someday…