One of the most interesting plants found throughout the desert Southwest, the buffalo gourd is a native species belonging to the squash family. It grows from an underground tuber that can weigh as much as 160 pounds. The large triangular leaves can grow quickly from sprawling stems that can reach 20-30 feet a season. Yellow ”squash blossoms” develop into baseball sized green and white striped fruit, that look tasty, but don’t eat them ….. the fruit is poisonous! Buffalo gourd is common along the ABQ Open Space trails.
The Unicorn Plant, aka Devil’s Claw. Definitely one of the most bizarre native species found in only a few spots along the Copper Trails, ABQ Open Space. what begins as a stout-stemmed, big-leaved, gorgeous-flowered plant, quickly produces okra-like fruits that dry into wickedly-clawed woody seed pods!
Remembering back to last fall when I thought it would be a snap to learn the difference between our local Opuntia species. Definitely a case of the more you learn, the less you know. I’ll consider this a challenge to resume in the spring!