Monday, April 05, 2010

The Elusive Ajo Lily!

We found the lilies! They actually do exist! And, are they ever glorious. The soil in this area was so very sandy, unlike the other areas we explored today and the lilies seemed to thrive in this one area. They, indeed, looked more like cultivated lilies than I anticipated considering the arid area in which they grew.

Here are a few words I found on the 'net about these lilies: Ajo lily (Hesperocallis undulata)

Common names: desert lily.

Bulb, Lily Family.

Blooms February-April in southwestern Arizona, southeastern California and northwestern Sonora, Mexico.

6-24 inches (15-60 cm) high with long, narrow, ruffle-edged, single leaves. The bulbs are 18-24 inches (45-60 cm) below the desert surface and only flower in a good spring.

Grows in sandy or pebbly flats. Fragrant flowers are pollinated by Hawkmoths. Tohono O'odham Indians eat the onion-flavored bulbs. Ajo means garlic in Spanish and the town, mountain range and valley are named after this flower. A good place to find them is Organ Pipe National Monument in southwestern Arizona.

A desert wash, with Courthouse Rock in the background. This was our destination for our lunch, after finding the lilies, we wound over 4-wheel drive trails for what seemed like an hour to reach the base of this rock. I was so hungry by then, but the scenery made up for it, this was a very pristine part of the desert.

Ajo Lily - Check out those blossoms and the almost prehistoric-looking leaves! This was a tall one; they came in all sizes height-wise, but no matter how short the main stems were, the blossoms were all the same wonderful size.

Two of the shorter lilies, bunched together. This was a wonderful experience to see these, and a tribute to Woodie's memory to be able to find them again after five years. We had a wonderful day that will be a lovely memory for a long time. What a wonderful way to celebrate the resurrection by being in God's cathedral!


debwardart said...

Hi Susan - you now have more florals to paint!!! And I'm sure you will do justice to all of them. I've only been to the southwest once (years ago on my honeymoon) but found the starkness of the desert to have an amazing and unique beauty. Love all of your photos here and will be back!

Watercolors by Susan Roper said...

Thanks for checking out my blog, deb! I have added yours to my fav's. I appreciate, also, your compliments on my tulips; especially after seeing your beautifully painted flowers. I will, when brave enough, try to paint these Ajo Lilies; they are so odd-looking, but beautiful. I am going to, first, though paint a Giant Argentinian cactus on Yupo. I will be brave and try to paint a full sheet size for this...gulp! If I am to be in for a penny, might as well be in for a pound I figure.

RHCarpenter said...

I've never seen anything like this - beautiful but so stark. I imagine we'll be seeing a painting of these soon - but can't wait to see that cactus painting on yupo!!! You are brave!

Margaret Ann said...

What a spectacular plant...and what a blessing to be able to find it again...Takes my breath away! :)