Posts Tagged ‘Highlands Center for Natural History’

  • On the Walls: Les Femmes des Montage

    Jun 29, 18 • ndemarino • 5enses, On the WallsNo CommentsRead More »

    By Robert Blood Art for art’s sake is all well and good, but isn’t it even better when it benefits nonprofits and e’er-do-wells? For the third year in a row, Prescott’s Les Femmes des Montage have used their annual show — incidentally, in its 14th iteration — to raise money for the Highlands Center for Natural History. The artists span the gamut and include women who exhibit locally, nationally, and internationally. Here’s a brief list to stoke your interest: Cindi Shaffer (kiln-formed glass, photos, and printmaking), Patricia Tyser Carberry (handmade glass beads and jeweler), Jo Manginelli (weaving, wearable art, and other textiles), Carolyn Dunn (photographic art), and Barb Wills (wearables and accessories). New artists in this year’s Les Femmes des Montage show include Diane Brand (oils and acrylics), Deanne Brewster (pottery), Jody L. Miller (photography), Pam Dunmire (acrylics), and Leslee Oaks (metal and clay). Here’s your mid-year chance to stock up on holiday gifts and give back to the community at the same time. The show and sale run 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, July 14 in the Marina Room of the Hassayampa Inn, 122 E. Gurley St. That’s fairly early in the month, so mark your calendars after you finish reading this sentence.   ***** The 14th annual Les Femmes des Montage show and sale is 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, July 14 at the Hassayampa Inn, 122 E. Gurley St

  • (It’s) For the Birds: Central Arizona Land Trust campaigns for Coldwater Farm

    Jun 29, 18 • ndemarino • 5enses, FeatureNo CommentsRead More »

    By Robert Blood [Editor’s note: The following interview was culled from conversations between the reporter and Jeanne Trupiano, Coldwater Farm project manager with Central Arizona Land Trust. Find out more at CentralAZLandTrust.Org.] So what is Coldwater Farm and how did it get involved with the Central Arizona Land Trust? It’s 20 acres of land along the Agua Fria River in Dewey-Humboldt owned by Garry and Denise Rogers. They approached the Central Arizona Land Trust in 2017 with the desire to permanently protect their acreage, which spans the river there. The property contains a major Cottonwood-Willow gallery forest and perennial water, so it’s very lush, like an oasis, with very dense vegetation. They also have two large ponds that waterfowl like to use. Also in 2017, the Arizona Game and Fish Department observed two threatened or endangered bird species nesting and breeding there: the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher and the Yellow-billed Cuckoo. This is private property, though. Why does it need protection? The property has zoning that would allow for one unit for every two acres. So, whoever has the land, down the line, could develop it to that density. Eventually everything sells, and this is a way for property owners to protect sensitive areas. … Typically, it’s the landowners who approach us about this. We do some outreach and education, but typically it’s such a big decision that landowners think it

  • Plant of the Month: Wright’s Silktassel

    Nov 3, 17 • ndemarino • 5enses, Plant of the MonthNo CommentsRead More »

    By David Moll People seem to really like Wright’s Silktassel. They seem to like it primarily because it’s an evergreen shrub, its broad, leathery leaves lending rich green color to winter landscapes. It also happens to be a useful illustration of botanical phenomena. That attractive foliage is a clear example of plants that have leaves paired opposite one another on the branch. Other plants have an alternating or a whorled leaf arrangement. Furthermore, Wright’s Silktassel’s opposite leaves are set at horizontal right angles from the leaves at the preceding and following nodes. The fancy name for this phenomenon is decussation and leaf arrangements exhibiting it are called decussate. This is the most common formation among vascular plants. Leaf arrangement is a good thing to notice in our botanical explorations. Wright’s Silktassel is also an example of plants that have boy flowers and girl flowers on separate plants. This opens the topic of plant sexuality and can help us understand what we’re seeing when we investigate the plants we find in the field. We may be most familiar with flowers that have boys (stamens) and girls (pistils) on the same flower, but boys and girls can be on separate flowers, separate plants, or some mix. Let’s not forget vegetative reproduction which begs the evolutionary question of why sex at all. If fertilized, those girl flowers will mature into a dark blue,

  • Plant of the Month: Birdbill Dayflower

    Jul 25, 17 • ndemarino • 5enses, Plant of the MonthNo CommentsRead More »

    By Mara Trushell The Birdbill Dayflower (Commelina dianthifolia) remains underground living as tuberous roots for much of the year. The beauty of this dayflower may only be enjoyed after the monsoon thunderstorms saturate grassy openings and meadows within woodlands and conifer forests from 4,000-9,000 feet. By late July, relatively long, linear leaves grow alternately up thin stems that are topped with a large spathe (folded sheathing bract); this is the “bird bill.” Beginning in August, during the cool morning hours, a single flower at a time emerges from the spathe. These flowers are comprised of three unique petals: two equal petals sit above a slightly smaller petal. Each is thin at its base, but then fans into delicate but wide vibrant blue petals; these just barely touch. In the center of the trio the stigma extends just beyond the vibrant yellow stamens which are set on filaments that are a deeper blue than the petals themselves. The display is complete when light catches the purple edges or stripes of the vibrant green spathe from which the flower emerged. By the hot afternoon, this single flower often wilts, hopefully only after successful pollination, and the next day a new flower opens. This display continues through September. Then, once again, the Birdbill Dayflower reduces to its underground tubers until the next summer. [Author’s Note: Birdbill Dayflower is one of two common representatives

  • Plant of the Month: Juneberry

    Apr 28, 17 • ndemarino • 5enses, Plant of the MonthNo CommentsRead More »

    By Mara Trushell Spring migrant calls and local breeding birds’ song fill the air this time of year. Birds are only one of many organisms who are responding to spring in a way that can overwhelm our senses, and many are just as enjoyable as their songs. When hiking along scrubby slopes or ridges, woodland stream banks, or canyons, keep out a close eye for Amelanchier utahensis (Utah Serviceberry, Juneberry, Shadbush, or Utah Shadberry). This is when it’s at its formal best. This relatively large but sparsely branching bush is often found hiding under the dappled shade of oaks or ashes or concealed among vibrant yellow New Mexico olive flowers, a beautiful and fragrant hop tree, or delicate clusters of the black cherry flowers. Amelanchier utahensis produces clusters of three to six flowers which transform this bush into a dappled array of fresh vibrant green leaves among white flowers during April and May. The five narrow, widely spread petals don’t overlap and the anthers appear within a crown-like formation. The fragrance it emits has been described as unpleasant, so you can stick to enjoying these flowers visually. Amelanchier utahensis is a common shrub found between 2,000-7,000 feet across the country. The bush is an important resource for wildlife because it provides supple leaves for deer and other browsing ungulates to enjoy throughout the year. In addition, as spring transitions into

  • Plant of the Month: March multitudes

    Feb 27, 17 • ndemarino • 5enses, Plant of the MonthNo CommentsRead More »

    By Mara Trushell Spring brings many wonderful things. Warm weather, longer days, budding leaves, baby animals, and of course, flowers. In Prescott, an abundance of our spring flowers come from native shrubs, some that even go unnoticed until they blossom in a wide array of fragrance and shapes. Displayed are only a few species that will begin to speckle color across the landscape this March. **** Visit the Highlands Center for Natural History at 1375 Walker Road, 928-776-9550, or HighlandsCenter.Org. Mara Trushell, education director at the Highlands Center for Natural History, grew up in Prescott surrounded by its natural wonder and now teaches through science and nature to inspire new wonder in current and future generations

  • Plant of the Month: Fremont Cottonwoods

    Jan 30, 17 • ndemarino • 5enses, Plant of the MonthNo CommentsRead More »

    By Mara Trushell With a height that can reach 130 feet and a trunk that can span over four feet in diameter, Fremont Cottonwoods (Populous fremontii) are giants within riparian ecosystems. These glorious trees are common along lake shores, rivers, and streams in Arizona from 150 – 6,000 feet elevation. The grayish bark is thick and furrowed at maturity and massive trunks support extensive branches that spread into broad, open crowns. Cottonwoods not only have a noteworthy visual presence; they also have a significant ecological role. Whether an individual tree or an expansive forest, it’s the entire tree, from root tip, to canopy structure, to seed capsule, that supports a rich habitat, complete with food and shelter. The life of a cottonwood begins within moist soils. With substantial amounts of consistent water, these fast growing trees soon reach their full potential. Intricate root networks stabilize the soil along stream beds, and saplings offer leaves that are a food source for many mammals. As cottonwoods reach maturity a multitude of flowers are produced in long-stranded catkins, just before the leaves fully emerge from their buds each spring. Both male and female flowers are obscure but develop into long catkins. Female flowers develop seeds with attachments of soft cotton-like puffs that catch the wind and carry them off to spread the next generation further afield. Summer brings dense foliage that attracts a

  • Plant of the Month: Conifers

    Dec 30, 16 • ndemarino • 5enses, Plant of the MonthNo CommentsRead More »

    By Nichole Trushell Like animals, plants prepare for winter. Shortening day-length triggers hormone and cellular changes. Signs of this, such as fall color and leaf drop in our deciduous cottonwood, gambel oak, and three-leaf sumacs, are obvious and lovely. But how do evergreens survive? Our Highlands conifers (cone bearers) like juniper and pine have needles or tiny scale leaves. We see them as evergreen, but they actually lose and replace leaves slowly throughout the year. Remarkably, these plants can photosynthesize during all seasons. Photosynthesis in winter is a risk — it requires water. Conifers face freezing damage to cells and must resolve water movement through their vascular systems when temperatures fall below freezing. The strategies are elegant. With their tiny but numerous evergreen leaves, conifers have an enormous surface area which collectively can bring in a lot of sunlight, even in winter. Leaves have a waxy coating of cutin which acts as insulation to both water loss and cold, and they have the ability to close their stomates (leaf pores) tightly to reduce water loss during inclement weather. Unlike animals, plants also have sturdy cell walls that prevent splitting when ice crystals form inside the cells, and the sap does not freeze easily. The antifreeze-like sap and the waxy coating on the needles help, but in extremes, the water in the ground and plant may freeze. Water movement in plants

  • Plant of the Month: Wood’s Rose

    Nov 4, 16 • ndemarino • 5enses, Plant of the MonthNo CommentsRead More »

    By Jennifer Temkin As you hike in the ponderosa forests of the Central Arizona Highlands during fall, you may notice bright red little fruits in the understory along the trails. You just might be looking at the hips of Wood’s Rose. Roses are one of the most recognizable flowers worldwide, but many people are unaware that we have native roses growing wild nearby in our forests and along creeks in our riparian areas. They may not be as showy and extravagant as the cultivated roses you find commercially in a myriad of colorful varieties, but they’re spectacular in their own right. Our native rose has something to offer for all seasons. In early spring, the new shoot growth provides forage material for wildlife such as mule deer and antelope. As the thickets of wild rose leaf out, they provide dense habitat and coverage for small mammals and nesting birds. In late spring and early summer, the ends of their reddish prickle laden branches are covered in 2-inch pink, fragrant flowers that attract native bees with their protein rich pollen. As summer progresses, the pink petals fall from the flowers, and their fruits, rose hips, begin to grow and ripen. Rose hips are enjoyed by a variety of mammals, large and small, and many species of birds. There is a long history of Native American use of wild rose hips for

  • Plant of the Month: Ferns

    Sep 30, 16 • ndemarino • 5enses, Plant of the MonthNo CommentsRead More »

    By Mara Trushell The Arizona landscape is ornamented with a wide spectrum of charismatic plants. The bold blossoms of the Saguaro; the magnificent flowers, fruit, and form of prickly pear; and vast Ponderosa Pine forest are all symbolic of Arizona flora. Included within this diverse landscape are the less symbolic, equally magnificent, and possibly unexpected species of ferns. The extant fern families are traceable through the fossil record back around 362 million years, during the late Carboniferous period. For perspective, this would be 117 million years prior to the first dinosaurs. During this Era of Ferns, the landscape was dominated by ferns of all sizes. Impressively, some species even grew up to 26 feet tall with fronds (leaves of a fern) up to 16 feet. Keep in mind that the distribution of flora was significantly different and the atmospheric O2 and water concentration during this time period was much higher in comparison to today. The fossil record shows that ferns continued to dominate the landscape for about 72 million years before Gymnosperms (conifers) began to appear. The landscape was shared between the two for the next 145 million years. As continents continued to shift and climates became more arid, angiosperms (flowering plants) finally began to appear (217 million years after the first ferns). Records also show that it was only after the spread of angiosperms across the landscapes that ferns

Celebrating art and science in Greater Prescott.

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