Plant haul from my December 2019 Arizona trip

One of my great passions in life is traveling. Don't get me wrong—I love being at home, too, but the pull to see other places never quite goes away. In German, there's a great word for this: Fernweh. It literally means “far-ache.” The “ache” part is the same as in “toothache:” a pain that is persistent and all-encompassing. The German language definitely has a knack for coining simple words that express complex emotions!

While I enjoy travel no matter what form it takes, I do prefer driving over flying. When you look at the photos below, you'll understand why. Other people bring home coffee mugs or tea towels as souvenirs, I come back with plants and rocks.

Trunk of our Toyota Prius after my recent Arizona trip. The bare spot on the left was where my clothes bag had been.

Most plants in my Arizona haul are succulents: primarily cacti and agaves, plus a couple of aloes and a random euphorbia. But there's also a desert fern (Astrolepis cochisensisaka Cochise scaly cloak fern), a rare Sonoran Desert vine (Tumamoca macdougallii, aka Tumamoc globeberry), a Baja California shrub (Pachycormus discolor, aka Baja elephant tree), and a pachycaul from South Africa (Pachypodium namaquanum, aka halfmens or elephant trunk).

Box on top right

And then there are rocks and even an awesome freestanding cholla skeleton I bought for $20 at a flea market in Quartzsite, Arizona.

The petrified wood came from the same flea market in Quartzsite:

Petrified wood

Petrified wood

Below: The rocks with turquoise-colored minerals (=copper) were roadside finds in the tiny town of Ajo, Arizona where I spent the night after visiting Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Ajo is home to a massive open-pit copper mine. The mine was shut down in 1983, but the enormous crater (1½ miles across, 1100 ft. deep) sits there like a gaping wound. You can look down into it from a viewpoint.

Rocks with copper minerals

The two mariachi musicians in our front yard—themselves expats from Arizona who hitched a ride with me last year—received reinforcement: a guitar player from Tubac. The mariachi trio is complete now:

Junior member of mariachi band; cholla skeleton top left

Junior member of mariachi band; cholla skeleton top left

Here's a closer look at the various plants, organized by type/category:

Cactus. Bottom to top, left to right in photo on the left: Thelocactus rinconensis var. lophothele; Tephrocactus paediophilus, Echinocactus horizonthalonius var. nicholii, Echinocereus stramineus; Ferocactus hamatacanthus, Echinocereus viereckii ssp. morricalii, Mammillaria longimamma; Echinocereus boyce-thompsonii, Mammillaria plumosa, Echinocactus ingens and Echinocactus platyacantha.

Agaves. Bottom to top, left to right: Agave chazaroi, Agave titanotaAgave simplex, Agave horridaAgave sebastiana; Agave pintilla (2x), Agave nuusaviorum

For a friend: six Agave pintilla from Jeff Moore @ Arid Adaptations

Dried branch from smokebush (Psorothamnus spinosus) and a particularly blue form of Pedilanthus macrocarpus

Aloe bulbillifera hybrid, Aloidendron ramosissimum (hard to pass up for $12 at Tohono Chul Park), Pachycormus discolorPachypodium namaquanumEuphorbia bupleurifolia

Pachypodium namaquanum (left) and Euphorbia bupleurifolia from Jeff Moore @ Arid Adaptations

Aloe bulbillifera hybrid from Jeff Moore @ Arid Adaptations

Here are all the plants I brought home:

  • Agave chazaroi
  • Agave pintilla 2x
  • Aloe bulbillifera hybrid
  • Echinocactus platyacanthus
  • Euphorbia bupleurifolia
  • Pachycormus discolor
  • Pachypodium namaquanum
  • Pedilanthus macrocarpus 
  • Peniocereus roseii
  • Tephrocactus paediophilus

  • Aloidendron ramosissimum
  • Echinocactus ingens (apparently now considered synonymous with Echinocactus platyacanthus)
  • Ferocactus hamatacanthus
  • Mammillaria plumosa
  • Thelocactus rinconensis var. lophothele
  • Tumamoca macdougallii

  • Echinocereus boyce-thompsonii 
  • Mammillaria longimamma

  • Agave horrida
  • Agave nuusaviorum
  • Agave sebastiana
  • Agave titanota
  • Echinocactus horizonthalonius var. nicholii
  • Echinocereus stramineus
  • Echinocereus viereckii ssp. morricalii 

I'll post updates as I work the plants and rocks into our landscaping.


December 2019 Arizona trip index

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  1. I love the turquoise rock and Agave sebastiana. The way you're going, you're going to need to lease land for next year's treasures.

    1. I've been dreaming of gardening on 2 or 3 acres for a long time now...

  2. Your very own mariachi band to sing the garden's praises. They look great together. The Pachypodium namaquanum has a very cool top but wicked looking spines. Where will all your new treasures go?

    1. Some plants, like the Pachypodium, will remain in pots. Others will be tucked in here and there. In fact, I've already planted some of the smaller cactus. Updates to follow.

  3. Great haul! I just sent a request to Arid Adaptations for a blue Pedilanthus macrocarpus! I live in Phoenix. Jeffery is a terrific grower!

    1. Jeff had that pedilanthus in a pot, and I spotted it from a few hundred feet away. Such a beautiful color--much nicer than the standard green form of P. macrocarpus.

  4. That's quite the haul! I am especially fond of the Pachypodium namaquanum. Can you explain the odd longer leaves at the base of the Agave pintilla?

    1. The longer leaves of Agave pintilla are the first true leaves of the seedlings. They're always longer, presumably to allow for extra photosynthesis. They're also the first leaves to dry up and fall off.

  5. The rocks you picked up are just splendid ! The plants are good too!

  6. I'm relieved to see others who pick souvenir rocks on their travel...

    1. Always. Even when I fly, except then the rocks are very small :-)

  7. Great finds. The rocks are wonderful. And the Pachypodium is the best! I do have a question about the fern. You didn't list where you purchased it. Just curious if it could possibly have come from a mail order nursery.

    1. I got the fern from a friend, but other species of Astrolepsis are available mail order. In fact, I just ordered three Astrolepsis sinuata from Plant Lust.

  8. Very cool! The plants, of course, but those rocks too. What a great way to remember your trips!

    1. We simply don't have rocks like that around here. You're so close to the desert, I bet you can get rocks like at your local rock yard--envious!


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