I was headed for a canyon that runs north and south, channeling the water from two good sized peaks. Climbing up through the bolder strewn gash I reached the string of squat yet majestic elephant trees, Busera microphylla. South Mountain is the northern most edge of their range – so sorry you folks in PV and Scottsdale! In the smoldering days of June these tropic trees dropped all of their leaves and the branches, plump with moisture in the winter, had withered and turned black. The peeling bark on the thick trunk performs the act of photosynthesis in the absence of leaves, but you’d swear these trees were finished. After the weekend rain I walked through the canyon and the elephant trees were twinkling, completely covered with tiny white flowers. On this day the flowers had faded, but brilliant green shoots and a myriad of tiny fruits flourished. The Busera is back.
Clambering around trying to get an angle to photograph that beautiful green I spied a good sized gopher snake. What a perfect place for a snake, here in the rocky drainage of a canyon sheltered by shrubbery. The past two snakes I’ve seen this summer have been on roads, and I’m sorry to say, dead. This snake was very much alive and when I raised my camera she flinched, so I moved away not to disturb her. Just a gorgeous animal and I’m grateful to know of her existence.