Sonoran Desert of southwestern Arizona, extreme southern California and northwestern Mexico to 2,500 feet elevation
Rocky dry slopes of desert mountains
Small, 5-petaled, creamy-white flowers, less than 1/4-inch wide, appear in the early summer.
An aromatic, 1/4-inch-long red fruit appears in autumn. It has a curving, elliptic stalk and contains one nutlet.
The Elephant Tree is the rare, northernmost species of small, aromatic, tropical family which is extremely susceptible to cold. Their short, very stout, tapered trunks and branches are reminiscent of elephants legs and trunks, hence their name. They have an open, but sparse crown, and grow to a height of only 10 feet.
The Elephant Tree's scientific name means "small-leafed." Dull, light-green, oblong leaves about an inch long, with a winged axis, are composed of tiny leaflets. The twigs are reddish-brown, and the bark is thin and flaky, white on the outside with lower layers green, then red.
Elephant Trees are so rare that for many years, skeptics refused to acknowledge their existence. It wasn't until 1937 that this species was confirmed growing in the Anza-Borrego Desert Park region. In the 1980s, specimens were also discovered in the foothills of the Santa Rosa Mountains, 20 miles to the north. Native Americans considered medicines prepared from the Elephant Tree very valuable and powerful.
-- A.R Royo
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View Video about The Black Widow Spider. The female black widow spider is the most venomous spider in North America, but it seldom causes death to humans, because it only injects a very small amount of poison when it bites. Click here to view video.
Despite its pussycat appearance when seen in repose, the bobcat is quite fierce and is equipped to kill animals as large as deer. However, food habit studies have shown bobcats subsist on a diet of rabbits, ground squirrels, mice, pocket gophers and wood rats. Join us as we watch this sleepy bobcat show his teeth.
The Mountain Lion, also known as the Cougar, Panther or Puma, is the most widely distributed cat in the Americas. It is unspotted -- tawny-colored above overlaid with buff below. It has a small head and small, rounded, black-tipped ears. Watch one in this video.
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DesertUSA is a comprehensive resource about the North American deserts and Southwest destinations. Learn about desert biomes while you discover how desert plants and animals learn to adapt to the harsh desert environment. Find travel information about national parks, state parks, BLM land, and Southwest cities and towns located in or near the desert regions of the United States. Access maps and information about the Sonoran Desert, Mojave Desert, Great Basin Desert, and Chihuahuan Desert.