Week of December 25, 2014 - Sonoran Desert Weed Walk

Thursday, December 25, 2014 12:08 PM | Anonymous

Walk in the Sonoran Desert, nearby places

There’s not a lot of desert left in Tucson. This city has grown so much since I first visited, swallowing up the desert and leaving houses in its stead. The weeds that like people are happy about these changes, though. Let’s look at a few of them before we go out into the desert proper. It is always calming, when in a new place, to see old familiar faces smile up at me.

Rosemary (Rosmarimus officinalis)
The rosemary bushes planted in the developed areas grow into perfect balls covered in blue-purple flowers. This one is one of many at an apartment complex. I am itching to get out my scissors and make some rosemary vinegar. It is great in salads and superior as a hair rinse. I hope the dwellers in these apartments harvest sprigs to use as seasoning.

Mallow (Malva neglecta)
We have been seeing a lot of this delicious salad green and soothing medicine this winter. I believe it has been on every one of our walks for the past few months. What can I say? It pops up everywhere: in vacant lots, school yards, gardens, and roadsides. This lush example is in Betsy’s rose garden. I added a few leaves to our salad. And we marveled at how deep the roots go, allowing this plant to survive in the harshest places.

Violet (Viola species)
All hail Queen Violet. She was one of my first favorite infusions. I stopped recommending her when the price of dried violet got super expensive, but it has come down in the past years, and many students are telling me they are making and loving violet leaf infusion. It is said to be one of the best antioxidants available. But they say that about everything these days – from maple syrup to purple potatoes. The infusion is soothing to the gut, strongly anti-cancer, and a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Wild Mustard
Everywhere I go, the mustard family offers me sustenance. This mustard was growing happily in an area that has recently been bulldozed and covered in cement in an effort to control flood waters. It has a spicy, mustardy taste that I crave in a green salad. We didn’t manage to get any home for our dinner salad though. We ate it on the spot, leaving, of course, the ones that were flowering and setting seeds. I hope to find lots more of this mustard growing here when I visit again next year.

More Sonora Weed Walks Upcoming!

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