1/7/10

Coachella Valley Preserve

Is it cold where you are? We just got back from the desert!

I did three nature walks in Palm Springs, the first of which at Coachella Valley Preserve. This is the Colorado Desert, in California, near Palm Springs, two hours east of Los Angeles. I picked a course that included two fan palm oases. The California fan palm (Washingtonia filifera) is the only palm native to this desert.

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The tree is widely used in California's horticulture and landscaping along with the Baja native, Washingtonia robusta.
"California fan palm is one of the hardiest and most massive palm trees in the world. Mature specimens can reach 80 feet with trunks that are 3 to 4 feet across..." (source)
As you can see, I've included a Minnesotan for scale.

Coachella Valley Preserve

Coachella Valley Preserve

In stark contrast to the surrounding dry desert area (we're getting there soon), the floor of the oasis at the park entrance was quite swampy.

Coachella Valley Preserve

A boardwalk guides you through it.

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Coachella Valley Preserve Coachella Valley Preserve

The shade of the oasis is almost total.

Coachella Valley Preserve

One abhors dead palm fronds in cultivated landscapes, but they seemed a vital part of the whole in the natural landscape.

Coachella valley Preserve
"Dead fronds are held indefinitely, and create palm's characteristic gray-brown skirt. In urban areas, palm skirts have a reputation for harboring roof rats and other unwanted creatures. While this is true, palm skirts also provide housing for desirable wildlife, including owls. The skirt of dead fronds may be removed if care is taken not to damage the trunk." (source)
Note: Removing palm fronds is potentially serious business.

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Moving away from the oasis, palms give way to tall grasses and desert scrub.

Coachella valley Preserve

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Coachella Valley Preserve

I don't know what species of grass this is.

Coachella Valley Preserve

But those ladies are admiring a great ocotillo (Fouquieria sp.):

Coachella Valley Preserve

Moving on...

Coachella Valley Preserve

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Coachella Valley Preserve

At length we approach the second oasis.

Coachella Valley Preserve

Coachella Valley Preserve

Coachella Valley Preserve

Coachella Valley Preserve

Coachella Valley Preserve

Coachella Valley Preserve

Coachella Valley Preserve

Coachella Valley Preserve

Come back soon and we'll visit Tahquitz and Palm Canyons, both amazing places.

In the meantime, enjoy a little piece of desert sky.

Tahquitz Canyon

8 comments:

Les said...

Beautifully other worldly, at least other from my world. Nice job on the photos too.

Christopher C. NC said...

Never been to Palm Springs or seen a real oasis. Very cool. Washingtonia palms are vicious with mega sharp recurved thorns along the petiole margins. They self seed like crazy and grow incredibly fast. Not my favorite palm.

It is hard to imagine the scenario where a landscaper gets smothered by the fronds and three guys are stuck in the same tree. Climb back down dude.

Dirt Guy said...

Very cool Chuck. As much as I really don't care for all the palm trees used in landscaping in the Bay Area, seeing native palms in their natural environment is much different. Loved all the pics & look forward to more.

Bonnie Story said...

I agree with the Dirt Guy, suddenly so many things about Palms make perfect sense. What a wonderful glimpse into this rare place. Gorgeous photos - thank you for including the human bean fior scale, I needed that. I had Pallisades-size palms in mind but I was way off! I will certainly look forward to more pics!

Noelle said...

Hi Chuck,

Such great photos of a beautiful area. In our old home in Phoenix, we had 10 California Fan Palms. They were so tall.

fairegarden said...

Your travelogues are the best Chuck, really! Love the Minnesotan for scale, those are massive palms, not realized without a human in the shot. The whole area seems untouched by man, except for the pathways?
Frances

Katie said...

What a contrast from Big Trees!

Pam/Digging said...

How improbable to see those lush palms rising from the desert scrub. It may sound funny, but I never thought about where the name Palm Springs came from. Beautiful images, Chuck. Thanks for the education.