Friday, December 11, 2009

Suited to Arizona

Macfadyena unguis-cati (Cat's Claw Vine)

One of the reasons I bought a couple of Cat's Claw Vines 15 months ago was that this popular vine is well suited to Arizona and notoriously fast growing, and I wanted something to break up the monotony of the high, unpainted block walls that surround my very large back yard. Well, no fast growth in my garden! After languishing as a single, six inch stem for months and months, in late November this plant finally decided to grow. (The other one is alive, but barely.)

The Cat's Claw is a self-climbing vine that attaches itself to a wall with tiny claw like structures. It tends to get top-heavy if not pruned regularly, and can come loose and topple. If that happens the only way to get it to self-attach again is to cut it to the ground. At the slow rate it's growing in my garden, I won't have to worry about that for quite awhile.

This vine is so tough it can take full sun on a south wall, is hardy to 15 degrees, drought tolerant and takes reflected heat. In spring, it has trumpet-shaped yellow flowers for a short period of time.

Geococcyx californianus (Roadrunner)

Recently this Roadrunner decided to stop his food gathering for a minute to rest on my courtyard pony wall. Although I snapped this photo through the window glass and screen of my home office, it's clear enough to see its coloring and size.

Roadrunners are ground cuckoos with some strange characteristics. It is especially suited to the desert as it has a nasal gland the eliminates excess salt, and it reabsorbs water from its feces before excretion. It is so fast it can catch a humming bird in midair!

The roadrunner's diet includes insects, scorpions, lizards, snakes, rodents and birds, but in winter when small animals and reptiles are harder to find, it will eat some plant material. This bird will go after rattlesnakes and kill them by whipping them around and slamming the snake's head until it dies, then it swallows the snake whole, digesting it a little at a time--half in--half out. Kind of a disgusting bird when you think about it!


GardenJoy4Me said...

Aiyana .. that is an interesting plant ! .. and wow ! on the roadrunner .. it makes me smirk about the cartoon one and how crafty it was ? ;-)

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Hi Aiyana! Yes, the plant is very interesting. As for the bird, I need to read this to my boys. Does it eat slugs?

Dee said...

Wow-I sure never knew all that about roadrunners. Cool little birds even with the odd habits. Hope your catsclaw grows quickly in the Spring. I had one in the courtyard outside my job office window I was watering. Got to work one day to discover the landscaping guys had pulled it out!

verobirdie said...

Oh, roadrunners do exist? Not only in cartoons. And it is quite amazing too. Thanks for the information.

Bill Kisich said...

Ha! Aiyana has a Cat Claw in her yard! I hope you love it! They are truly beautiful when they flower. A Brilliant yellow. My experience is they are slow starters, though. Depending on the location, by year three I think you will have forgotten the slow start.

Great pictures of the Fox! That must have been very exciting.

Glad to visit your blog again. Thanks for your message. It was a nice pick-me-up. I have been very, very busy starting a new service for my little company. More later.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

Phoenix C. said...

The vine looks interesting - i hope it grows a little faster for you!

I didn't realize there really is a bird called the roadrunner!

Have a lovely Christmas, Aiyana, and thank you for your interesting blog, which I have loved reading through the year!