Ever wanted to learn the difference between mesquites and acacias – to distinguish Arizona’s native palo verdes? An Arboretum by definition is a place for trees – you haven’t truly experienced all that Boyce Thompson Arboretum has to offer until you’ve attended the once-a-month walking tour guided by Certified Arborist Jeff Payne narrating Trees of BTA.
Jeff’s tour is offered Sunday, May 21, begins from the visitor center breezeway lobby at 8 a.m., and is included with $12.50 daily admission – or free, if you’re already among annual members at BTA. Jeff leads his group past trees both native to the Sonoran Desert and exotic, sharing insider’s tips on tree care and horticulture. The News caught up with Jeff for a sneak preview ahead of his tour; an excerpt is below:
Q: What’s the most common misconception you hear about desert trees?
A: “First, roots do not seek out water. Trees are smart, but they do not consciously seek out water. Roots only grow in the soil where there’s adequate soil moisture, oxygen (yes, roots need air to live and there is oxygen in the upper soil zones) and available nutrients. This brings us to the second biggest misconception: rooting depth. Since roots only grow in soil where there is adequate soil moisture, oxygen and available nutrients, roots are mainly located in the top six-to-36-inches of soil. Some trees do have tap roots that extend down past this level, but they basically only offer anchorage for the tree. Almost all our native legumes here in the desert southwest only have a rooting depth to a few feet. Makes sense considering the total amount of precipitation we receive here annually.”
Q: Name a few favorite trees here at BTA?
A: (he grins) “My favorite trees are the ones that take care of themselves and don’t need extra work or maintenance! Unfortunately, those are few and far between here at the arboretum. If I had to choose a few favorites, they would include: Cedrus deodara, Condalia globosa, Pinus eldarica and Quercus buckleyi. Just two of those are on the monthly tree tour but be here Sunday for the tour and we’ll see them and I’ll share their common names, explain why they are my favorites.”