Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Desert Footwear

Odometer 54446

Ajo, AZ

Trekking in the desert the other day, Mark and I found some very excellent examples of footwear.

Mark holds a pair of Saguaro boots
Of course, the footwear I am talking about is the saguaro boot.  These "boots" are formed out of scar tissue generated by the saguaro plant when they are attacked or wounded.

Saguaro cactus  with flesh wounds
It is amazing to me that a plant that has such a great natural defense mechanism is so vunerable to the Gilded Flicker and the Gila Woodpecker, both of who make burrows and nests in the flesh, and sometimes burrow clear through to the other side.  
Once the nest has been vacated by the maker, they are often apropriated by owls and Purple Martins.

The remains of an old Saguaro cactus
Once the cactus dies and falls to the desert floor, the flesh is eaten or rotted away leaving the interior woody supports- and the tough leathery scar tissues that sometimes resembles a shoe or boot.

Would this then be a Saguaro slipper?
These are great finds and everyone wants two or ten of them as a souvenir, however wildlife biologists urge us not to collect them, but rather leave them in place as habitat for the smaller creatures of the desert.   Oh-yeah, it is also illegal to remove a saguaro boot from the desert in Arizona.

Hey! that looks like a size 11-1/2 - alright!

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

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