If you're having trouble viewing this email, you may see it online. Share this:
CDRI Desert NewsFlash
March 2023
The Black-chinned Hummingbirds will be returning soon! We'll have the feeders out by March 12 to welcome any "early birds."  Photo by CDRI friend Andy Morgan. You can see more of Andy's work at https://www.andymorganphotography.com.
Please join us!
Cactus & Succulent Sale
at the
Powell Visitor Center
March 13 - 15, 2023
(or until all are sold)
Gates open at 9:00 am. 
We're ready for the CDRI
Cactus & Succulent Sale fundraiser!
With nearly all plants having arrived at CDRI, we are ready for one of our best Cactus & Succulent Sales yet!  As always, the plants were sourced from reputable growers (see list below). Small cacti can be purchased in tiny pots ranging from 2 - 4 inches, with larger plants available in 1 - 7 gallon containers. Click on the link below to see the complete list of plants in this year's sale. 

We strive to give everyone an equal opportunity to shop for their plants; therefore, we do not hold a pre-sale. The first day of the sale is Monday, March 13. Shoppers arrive early and wait in line, in their cars, along the roadside until we open the gates at 9:00 a.m. Also, for those new to the Cactus & Succulent Sale, we sell about 80% of our inventory on the first day. So, please try to come early to be able to select your favorites.
Thank you to the following CDRI friends who helped pick up and deliver the large plants. CDRI Board President Jim Martinez and Jim Fissel delivered plants from Sunland Nursery, Las Cruces, New Mexico. CDRI Director Ed Pfiester and his brother Sam Pfiester delivered plants from JOSS Growers, Georgetown, Texas. And CDRI's Head Gardener, Faith Hille Dishron, Jake Dishron, and Barney Dishron, picked up and delivered plants from Green Lake Nurseries, Seagoville, Texas. We have some amazing friends!
Another thank you goes to our growers and nurseries, who helped us put together some great orders. They are listed below: 
Comanche Yucca, Fort Stockton, Texas
Green Lake Nurseries, Seagoville, Texas
JOSS Growers, Georgetown, Texas
Miles 2 Go, Tucson, Arizona
Mountain Crest Gardens, Fort Jones, California
Sunland Nursery, Las Cruces, New Mexico
The Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center & Botanical Gardens!

Thank you!
When is the best time to visit CDRI?

By Lisa Gordon
A frequent question we hear from our visitors is, “When is the best time of the year to visit?” I always respond with the answer that every month offers something unique, whether that’s plants leafing out and flowering, birds returning, or monsoons arriving. But this frequent question got me thinking that we should get specific with what you will experience on or near certain dates this spring.
I went through photos of plants in the Botanical Gardens that were taken between 2020 and 2022 and then compiled the information on a spreadsheet to see if there is a predictable date when to expect to see a specific plant blooming or when the most activity occurs in the garden. The following are answers to what you might see blooming at CDRI over the next two months.

The first week of March
By the first week of March, I think I can speak for nearly all of us that we're ready to see signs of spring in the garden and on the trails. Unfortunately, with CDRI's elevation at 5,100 ft., it still looks a bit like a continuation of winter. However, if you look closely at your surroundings you'll see some early bloomers. 
This week, you might see stemless Townsend daisies (Townsendia excapa) in the grasses on the drive up to the Powell Visitor Center, in addition to Javelina bushes (Condalia ericoides), with their tiny yellow flowers.  
The Texas madrone tree (Arbutus xalapensis) and the Agarita (Mahonia trifoliolata) at the bottom of the Modesta Canyon Trail will be two of the earliest plants to flower -- possibly by mid-March.  I'm always feeling impatient for the Mexican redbud trees  (Cercis canadensis var. mexicana) in the Botanical Gardens to bloom and show off their pretty pink flowers. That usually happens the last week in March.
Above left: Agarita (Mahonia trifoliolata) in Modesta Canyon (3/21/21); Above right: Mexican redbud (Cercis canadensis var. mexicana) (3/31/2022).
So, what's next after the Redbud blooms?
The Claret cup cactus (Echinocereus coccineus) will be in full bloom by the second week in April.
Above left: Claret cup cactus (E. coccineus) (4/7/21); Above center and right: Claret cup cactus (E. coccineus) (4/14/22).
The third week in April
Starting around the third week of April, the plants in the Rose Family (Rosaceae) were photographed with flowers. These include Wood’s rose (Rosa woodsii), Antelope bush (Purshia plicata), and Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa). The Cliff fendlerbush (Fendlera rupicola) and Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secudiflora) were also in full bloom. 
Above left: Wood's rose (Rosa woodsii) (4-14-21); Above right: Antelope bush (Purshia plicata)       (4-15-22). 
Above left: Cliff fendlerbush (Fendlera rupicola) (4/16/22); Above center: Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secudiflora) (4/16/22); Above right: Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa) (4/14/21). 
And the last week in April
The last week of April offers more flowering plants. These include the Fragrant ash (Fraxinus cuspidata), Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana) with its neon yellow flowers, Apache plume (Fallugia parodoxa), and the tall Faxon yuccas (Yucca faxoniana) showing off their big flowering stalks.
Above left: Fragrant ash (Fraxinus cuspidata) (4/24/20); Above center: Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana) and Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa) (4/30/20); Above right: Faxon yuccas (Yucca faxoniana)(4/24/22).
What blooms in May and June?
We'll continue this piece in next month's Desert NewsFlash

The photo of the Townsend daisies is by Warren Shaul. All other photos are by L. Gordon. 

Garden Notes

Foraging in the Spring
by Faith Hille Dishron
Foraging is one of the hobbies I most enjoy. It makes me feel more connected to the landscape and fills me with gratitude. This interest was established when I was a Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) tour guide with Brushbuck Wildlife Tours Inc. My priority on tours was to find black bears and grizzles for guests. While watching bears, I observed that they generally dug or climbed trees in search of food. As the inquisitive creature I am, I wanted to learn more about what they were eating.
I was told by other guides, “anything a bear eats, you can eat,” and there, my passion was sparked. There is an astonishing amount of plants to forage in the GYE, be it mushrooms, herbs, or balsamroot: my favorite being serviceberries, more specifically, huckleberries. Huckleberries taste similar to blueberry crossed with blackberry, and it’s divine when added to a milkshake. Here in Texas, we have our own serviceberries and edible plants. However, ours make them a “little” more challenging to collect with their special defensives.
However, before we start our adventure in foraging, let us first learn how to do it ethically and safely. Firstly, never harvest endangered native plants or threatened plants as labeled by the ICUN. At the top of your menu should be invasive plants, then less common nonnative species, common or weedy native species, and less frequent native species. When in drought, try not to harvest plants, especially not the roots. This will stress the plant out more than it already is. Think of yourself as a steward of nature, and take care of the land you are collecting from. Only harvest what you need; remember that the animals also need that food. There were many instances I witnessed people harvesting buckets of huckleberries or morel mushrooms in the Bridger-Teton forest. The bears that desperately needed that food for winter fat stores will find that it is now gone because of an overzealous forager.
Harvesting and consuming safely is crucially important. Unfortunately, there are sometimes close look-a-likes that are potentially fatal or inedible plants, which will have you spending the rest of your lovely day in the bathroom. I suggest reading about your local edible plants before going into the field. I highly recommend the book Foraging Texas: Finding, Identifying and Preparing Edible Wild Foods in Texas, by Eric M. Knight and Stacy M. Coplin. Then find a local foraging group or go with an experienced guide into the field to identify plants at least 5-8 times.
Additionally, observing your favorite stands of foods, such as prickly pears, through all four seasons is a good idea. It will give you more sense when the tunas (fruit of prickly pear) or pads are ripe for the picking. However, be wary of how much you consume of one thing. My husband and I learned this the hard way when collecting tunas in our early 20s. We intended to make margaritas with the juice. I removed the skin and glochids, blended, and strained. We used a lot of the concentrate in the margaritas to the point that it was a deep purple. We only had two drinks, but it felt like we were dying the next day. We had fatigue, nausea, low-grade fever, and severe joint aches. It turns out we were going through an extreme detox. Tunas are high in antioxidants, vitamin C, and other nutrients, but we had too much of a good thing.
Now to the fun part, what can you eat? Starting with the most abundant specie, crushed juniper berries can be used in rubs for flavoring meats. However, Juniper is a strong flavor, so use it sparingly. Here in West Texas, we have the Alligator juniper (Juniperus deppeana) and rose-fruited juniper (Juniperus coahuilensis); their berries can be enjoyed right off the tree since the fruits are juicier and sweeter than their eastern cousins. My favorite forage is the Torrey Yucca (Yucca torreyi) since you can collect the flowers, fruits, and the young flowering stalk. Flowers can be eaten raw or cooked with onions and eggs. Fruits are better eaten roasted to release their natural sweetness with the hard black seeds removed. I find the fruits taste similar to a date. The flowering stalks should be collected when it is still flexible and can be sautéed or roasted. However, collecting the stalk is somewhat invasive and is stealing a significant amount of food and shelter from animals and insects. Moths lay their eggs in the yucca flower; pollinators collect nectar, and many animals, like Mule deer, will eat the fruits.
My favorite berry to collect is from Agarita (Mahonia trifoliolata). I find the taste similar to a slightly bitter Skittle. It can be tricky to collect the berries because of the sharp leaves, but if you place a sheet under the bush and slap it, you can collect many with little effort. You can eat the berries raw or make jelly (the preferred method). A couple of other favorites are fruits from Enchinocereus coccineus, buffalo gourd seeds, firethorn (Pyracantha spp.), Cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens), prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola) and the common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale).
Armed with this information, you can research, forage, and devour your local invasive plants. But please do so carefully and respectfully and use common sense. (Don’t collect in a National Park.) “In cases of exposure or ingestion, contact a Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222), a medical toxicologist, another healthcare provider, or an appropriate reference resource.”
Knight, E. M., & Coplin, S. M. (2021). Foraging Texas: Finding, Identifying and Preparing Edible Wild Foods in Texas. Falcon Guides.
The photo of the Agarita is by Faith Hille Dishron.
Save the Date!

What:    The Roger Conant Distinguished Guest Lecturer Program
Who:      Lauren Esposito, Ph.D. 
When:    Thursday, April 13, 2023
Where:   The Crowley Theater, Marfa, Texas
Time:      7:00 p.m., doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Admission is free. Light appetizers and beverages after the program.

Modesta Canyon Trail Update
The Modesta Canyon Trail is perhaps the most popular trail at CDRI. It's also the most difficult trail to hike because of its steep incline. Last March 2022, the Central Texas Trail Tamers and a team of CDRI volunteers created a new trailhead and upper trail leading to Modesta Canyon. This year, the Trail Tamers are returning to do extensive work in the canyon to make the trail an even more enjoyable experience. 
The trail work will take place from March 6 - 9, closing that portion of the trail to the public. However, the other trails will be open to hikers, and Modesta Canyon Trail will be even more spectacular when renovations are completed.  
We appreciate your understanding.  And we're excited to welcome you to experience the renewed trail when it's reopened. 

We're looking forward
to seeing you
at the
Cactus & Succulent Sale!

Happy Spring Break! 
Safe travels! 
Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, P.O. Box 905, Fort Davis, TX 79734


This email was sent to lisagordon@cdri.org. To ensure that you continue receiving our emails,
please add us to your address book or safe list.
manage your preferences | opt out using TrueRemove®
Got this as a forward? Sign up to receive our future emails.
powered by