Endangered Cactus Burned

So I’m reading this article about a wildfire in Arizona that was not a controlled burn, and how it may have damaged populations of endangered cactus. But it’s all good because the endangered cactus had prevented them from starting a controlled burn in the first place, so an uncontrolled burn that damaged the endangered plants was ideal for them. Or something like that.

Since the early 1990s, she said, “We have been unable to (use a prescribed burn) because of the listing of the Pima pineapple cactus.”…

It burned close to the Tohono O’odham’s most sacred site and may have killed some endangered cacti.

It was mostly a good thing, say fire managers.

People really don’t care about endangered species. Anything to get around protecting them.

Nature Returns to Los Angeles

I like pictures. I’ve been posting mostly just articles with pictures. If they don’t have pictures, then I probably don’t care. I mean, it’s not like I can be bothered to read the actual article, now is it? 

I know, some bloggers not only read the article, but do research, and followup and write actual articles themselves. Well, that’s just not me. I prefer to post articles that have pictures. And this is a good one.


Nice sense of space, wide angle, lots of cactus and kids and an entire city in the background. Good stuff.

What’s the article that goes with it? Well, this is the caption in the LA Times:

Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times
In an effort to bring the cactus wren back to Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park, where it hasn’t been seen in a decade, Dorsey High students are restoring the coastal sage scrub preferred by the bird.

That’s enough for me.

Green Prefab Home

Clayton Homes has just launched a line of green prefab homes (called the i-house) that start at under $75,000 (or about $105 / square foot) excluding site costs and shipping. 


Well, what about the green roof? Where’s the optional green roof, I wanna know. I’m a bastard that way.

Green Roof Pasadena

The Westridge Upper School Sustainable Science Building is the first independent school in the San Gabriel Valley to build a LEED-certified green building…

Among the green features are… a green roof that will be planted with succulents.


Always with the succulents, never with the cactus. Cactus would make a very good green roof planting material, but people seem to prefer them some sempervivums. And in Pasadena, no less, where cactus would thrive in the hot sun. Maybe if we started a write-in campaign they could add in some prickly pears, and get some delicious tunas out of it in the long run.

Stimulus Comes to Endangered Species

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the grant recipients on Tuesday…

The project… helps protect habitats for the Siler pincushion cactus, a rare plant endemic to the Utah/Arizona border area… threatened because of the rapid urbanization of the Dixie area. The complex also assists with the preservation of the desert tortoise.

Here’s a picture.


That’s a two-fer – protect cactus AND tortoises. Too often we are asked to protect cactus OR tortoises. No longer. Thank you Secretary Salazar for all your good work protecting BOTH cactus AND tortoises. I’m an idiot.


Arizona Public Service Co. employees mowing down the cacti in the Black Canyon City area.

BLM… says… they do feel that if the saguaro is salvageable, it should be moved.

Green Roof, Manhattan-Style

From National Geographic:


Photograph by Diane Cooke and Len Jenshel

Some green roofs can be far simpler to create than traditional roof gardens. Volunteers from Cook + Fox installed the New York City architectural firm’s roof themselves using Green Paks. The polyethylene bags, marketed by St. Louis-based Green Roof Blocks, contain low-maintenance plants and can be laid out with no preparation beyond rolling out a layer of waterproof material that controls drainage and blocks the intrusion of roots into roof structures.

See more photographs from the May 2009 feature story “Green Roofs.”

If you click through to the article to learn what plants are being used in New York, you learn nothing of the sort. Sure, they mention Sedums, and talk about going native, but the article is more about building in Vancouver. Whatever, it’s a nice picture to “borrow.”

Saudi Arabian Cactus Problem

Those prickly plants can be a serious danger to cattle in dry regions, and they can spread pretty rapidly too. This is the first I’ve heard of a problem in Asia.

Landowners in Faifa city in Jizan Province have exhausted all options in their attempts to curb the spread of the… fast-growing purple-colored cactus…

“This type of cactus was only found in desert areas of the Tihama plains,” Bin Yahya says, “but over the time it spread to the foot of the mountains and then the baboons and birds and other animals brought it up the mountains. If we don’t tackle the problem soon, the cactus could sweep away all the pasture land and forested areas in the Faifa mountains.”…

The rapid spread of prickly pear in eastern Australia in the 1920s was considered to be one of the botanical wonders of the world, and its virtual destruction in a mere six years by cactoblastis caterpillars is regarded as the world’s most spectacular example of successful weed biological control.

Green Roof, WA and MD

Here’s an article from the Baltimore Sun about green roofs in Maryland that features a green roof in Tacoma, WA. Why couldn’t they send a photographer to get a picture of a local project?

MCT / Janet Jensen

Vivian deZwager sits on the roof of her house, overlooking her green-roof garage in Tacoma, Wash. She planted succulents there and created a design using plants and broken ceramic and terra cotta pieces as mulch….

Green Roof Manitoba

They seem to be everywhere these days, and that can only mean one thing.

The 28,000-square-foot green roof at Ducks Unlimited in southern Manitoba is modeled after the surrounding Oak Hammock Marsh, with lots of short- and medium-size grasses and flowering plants, all native to the area.

To a duck or goose “it looks like habitat,” said Paula Grieef, a naturalist at the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre. “We have ducks nesting on the roof every year, and last year for the first time we had a goose.”

They seem to like the native grasses better than the non-native succulents. Well, I never.

Biowall New Jersey

“With living walls, you’re recycling air. In many ways it’s better because, first of all you don’t know the quality of the air outside a building that you’re pumping in with normal heating and ventilation systems. By pulling air through the wall and recycling it you also don’t have to re-heat it or re-cool it.”

And there’s a Green Roof too!

The roof was built with special drains and an added liner, with grasses such as succulents and sedum being planted on top, all to absorb rainwater.

Awesome. Now you have a reason to visit Morristown, NJ.

Video after the break… Read More…

Green Roof, Sussex


An ecospace studio provides a stylish, multi-purpose solution… It has an organic low maintenance sedum planted roof.

Now that’s progress we can believe in.

I wonder if it comes with the lounge chairs out front?

Garden Outlaws Rule the World

Gardening as an act of revolution? Believe it. Rogue planters push the law to sow the city.


Guerilla gardener “Scott” stops for a minute to lo(o)k over his median garden along Loynes Drive in Long Beach May 13, 2008. Scott has been tending the median garden since the 1990’s, planting succulents from his own home garden.

Some may ask if I approve of this outrageous and illegal and highly dangerous activity.

I do approve. Here, I wrote a poem about it:

Gardens appear
plantings in medians
trees in abandoned lots
making fresh air


The endangered cactus wren is now moving into urban environments, or rather the urban areas are moving into the wren’s habitat.

Urbanization turns large areas of wild land into cities and suburbs, and has a profound effect on native speicies, changing where they live and how they interact,” says Paige Warren, an urban ecologist…

“The cactus wren is usually associated with the desert, since it builds nests in the protection of cacti and other thorny plants,” Warren explains. “However, this native species was able to penetrate the urban ecosystem more successfull the phaniopepla, and has been seen nesting in satellite dishes and other man-made structures.”

Nice job, little wren.

Green Roof Fiesta in Queens

Queens has generally lagged behind Manhattan in high-profile, high-rise green development for a variety of reasons- from lack of developer interest to its comparatively low-density. However, the borough’s origins as a manufacturing base for the rest of New York have left behind numerous low-rise former warehouses and factories with flat roof profiles.

I had wondered when Queens would get into the green building act.

Project Name: Queens Botanical Garden Visitor and Administration Center
Year: 2007
Owner: Queens Botanical Garden
Location: Flushing, NY, USA
Building Type: Park
Greenroof Type: Extensive
Greenroof System: Single Source Provider
Roof Size: 8000 sq.ft.
Roof Slope: 8%
Access: Accessible, Open to Public

Finally, arborboy reviews the roof and provides some pictures too. Read More…

Green Roof Boston

A new film about building a green building in Boston is making the festival rounds.

The Greening of Southie is a feature documentary about Boston’s first residential green building, and the skeptical workers who are asked to build it. From wheatboard cabinetry to recycled steel, bamboo flooring to dual-flush toilets, The Macallen Building is something different––a leader in the emerging field of environmentally friendly design. But Boston’s steel-toed union workers aren’t sure they like it….

Points keep accruing at the building site, as soil and succulents are hoisted onto the green roof

They’ve got a succulent green roof? Nice.

The extensive green roof on the top of the building, shown in this photo, lowers heating and cooling loads in addition to managing stormwater. Credit: John Horner, John Horner Photography

Green Roof Sunol

Not all green roofs have succulents (though of course the best ones do, in my opinion).

Project Name: Buttner-Chang Residence
Year: 2006
Owner: Ted Buttner and Rosemary Chang
Location: Sunol, CA, USA

The client requested a planting design which would blend and not compete with the beauty of the natural landscape. Sunol enjoys hot dry summers with frequent wind, but traditional greenroof succulents would not blend with the native landscape…

I chose plantings of mostly evergreen ornamental grasses for all roofs (main house, office, garage). The native landscape is comprised of summer dormant grasses, but to minimize fire hazard and for best aesthetic appeal, we chose non-native grasses that looked good year-round, could take the summer heat, drying winds, and importantly, summer irrigation. Since the client enjoyed succulents, we chose to flank the entry doors with more colorful succulents…


Green Roof Sunday

I don’t know why I picked Iowa for this lovely Sunday stroll through the (green roof) park, but there you go.

Modular Green Roof – Old Federal Building, Dubuque, IA

Green Roof – Willowwind School, Iowa City, IA

Green Roof – North Ridge Park Pavilion – Coralville, IA

Green Roof – Des Moines Public Library, Des Moines, IA

If they can do all that in Iowa, then what’s your excuse?


Oh Well

Well, that’s the end of that.

Nearly all of more than 2 million acres of public lands in six counties surrounding Richfield would be open to oil and gas drilling and off-highway recreation, under a U.S. Bureau of Land Management proposal released Friday.

The plan, which would open about 80 percent of public lands to energy drilling and about 90 percent to off-roaders, also would allow OHVs into areas of Factory Butte previously closed for endangered-species protection and wilderness-quality lands….

A bit more than a year ago, the BLM closed nearly all of it to cross-country OHV travel…. The emergency action was taken to protect endangered Wright fishhook cactus and the threatened Winkler cactus.

Well, I’m sure the administration has looked into it closely and has determined that they’re not worth it. No good reason to save a couple small cacti. They are doing their best to serve us all, and if they decide we shouldn’t be saving an endangered cactus, well then who are we to argue. It’s for our own good, those actions they take for us, they are.

California Native Plants on the Move

How quickly can plants migrate? We heard this report on the radio, and they have a slide show to go with it.

Scientists say the state’s plants are at risk of collapse unless they migrate or are moved to refuges. According to a new study, two-thirds of California’s unique plants, some 2,300 species that grow nowhere else in the world, could be wiped out across much of their current geographic ranges by the end of the century because of rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns.

Marin will look Baja. Berkeley like Bakersfield. That’s the projection of climatologists for the end of this century.

I’d guess that California cactus and dudleyas and sedums are probably going to be able to increase their range. But Berkeley will look like Bakersfield??? Oy, the pain.

Southern California Restoration Under Way

In San Diego, they’re finishing up restoration efforts.

An environmental team is nearly finished with two major restoration projects of endangered plants at Otay Ranch in Chula Vista.

One is the Otay tarplant, which has branching stems, green leaves and small yellow petals.

The other is the maritime succulent scrub, an assemblage of plants and vegetation that consists of coast cholla cactus, barrel cactus, jojoba and other succulents.

That seems like a good thing. I’ve never heard of “maritime succulent scrub” as a way to refer to a collection of coastal cactus, and probably some dudleyas in there as well, maybe a sedum or two.

Renewable Energy from Agaves

As a followup to our series of stories on Thursday about the ever-fascinating Agave plant, now comes this hopeful story about using Agaves for more than just tequila – it’s a source of renewable energy. Of course, it might force a rise in the price of tequila, which is probably less of a disaster on the world market than the rise in corn prices because of ethanol subsidies. Anyway…

With a history that stretches well back into pre-Columbian times, certain varieties of the Agave family are beginning to capture the attention of investors and researchers interested in indigenous plants and trees in countries around the world that are not used to produce food and have attributes that make them prospective sources of ethanol.

“Agave can bring in the new era of bio-economics giving the world enough clean energy for a peaceful and secure world.”

— Professor Remigio Madrigal Lugo, Ph.D., Agricultural Biotechnology

This is all very good news.



The Nature Conservancy has a fantastic photo feature on the Saguaro for Summer 2008.

When Gila Woodpeckers, gilded flickers or other excavating animals abandon nest cavities in saguaros, opportunists… move in.

Photo © John Cancalosi/naturepl.com

Did I say it was fantastic? Well, I only borrowed the one photo, while there are dozens more where that came from, including a shot of a western screech owl moving into that giant hole the woodpecker pecked out.

Weedy Problems

The New York Times discusses weeds and climate change today.

But enhancing CO2 levels, Ziska has found, not only augments the growth rate of many common weeds, increasing their size and bulk; it also changes their chemical composition. When he grew ragweed plants in an atmosphere with 600 p.p.m. of CO2 (the level projected for the end of this century in that same climate-change panel “B2 scenario”), they produced twice as much pollen as plants grown in an atmosphere with 370 p.p.m. (the ambient level in the year 1998). This is bad news for allergy sufferers, especially since the pollen harvested from the CO2-enriched chamber proved far richer in the protein that causes the allergic reaction.

Threatened Species in California

Yesterday I posted on a report on the loss of desert habitat in Arizona and Nevada. Today the San Francisco Chronicle looks at soon to be lost habitat in California.

The Woolyleaf ceanothus would be at risk if California’s climate becomes much hotter, a study says. Photo by Michelle Cloud-Hughes, special to the Chronicle…

If temperatures rise rapidly in California this century, up to two-thirds of the state’s native plants might lose large swaths of suitable habitat, according to a new study….

“The pace of climate change in the next 100 years poses a very serious threat to California’s native plants,” said David Ackerly, a UC Berkeley biology professor and an author of the new study published in the PLoS One, the Public Library of Science.

Scientists know that plants can respond to changing climate over thousands of years, Ackerly said. “But in less than a century, there is very little chance for plants to establish new populations and to migrate to keep up with these dramatic changes.”

What can you do? Smallstuff and big stuff.

Interesting how such beautiful pictures can really change a discussion. Usually we see pictures of bears and tree frogs and other endangered animals. But plant pictures can be just as powerful. I’m really kind of dazzled by the blue.

Climate Change

The LA Times references a USDA Climate Change report in passing.

It was just a couple of weeks ago that the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report that found that global warming could cause both the Joshua tree and the Sagauro cactus to disappear as desert ecosystems change.

Here’s the USDA’s summary from the report.

Arid Lands: The West’s arid lands comprise one of the nation’s fastest-growing regions, and include the cities of Las Vegas, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. Predicted impacts include “continental-scale impacts on downwind ecosystems, air quality, and human populations” from increased wind erosion; major losses of signature desert species, such as saguaro cactus and Joshua trees; and increased drought, severe rainstorms, and erosion, which will help spark widespread desertification.

Good News

…for the environment. 4 Baby Cactus Owls were hatched in captivity. The Tucson Citizen is all over it.

A nonprofit group that rescues birds of prey in Arizona has hatched four cactus ferruginous pygmy owls, the first ones bred in captivity, a researcher for the Arizona Game & Fish Department said….

Though the new owls will remain in captivity, the long-term goal is to replenish the dwindling population of the birds in the Sonoran desert, said sanctuary director Bob Fox.

“The plan will be to get the birds released to the wild at some point,” said Fox, who cares for about 150 owls and hawks at Wild at Heart.

I’d like to add my 2 cents worth:



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