Rodger Wilson, self-taught White Tank Mountain Conservancy nature guide, led the group of about 15 on the first hike of this type in Skyline.
In addition to identifying and describing the use and function of several desert plants, Wilson presented the nature hikers with the term of the day “ nurse plant” early in the hike and asked participants to unravel the mystery of its meaning at the end. Plants in the desert often are protected and nurtured by another plant which enables the dependent plant to proliferate.
The City of Buckeye recently appointed Adam Melle program director for Skyline, and Melle commented, “We are excited about the addition of this experience for our park visitors and appreciate the skills Rodger is bringing to Skyline programming!”
Dates for future nature hikes can be found on the Skyline Regional Park website.
There was a day long classroom training at Desert Botanic Gardens with their botanists. We learned botanical terminology and plant anatomy, dissected flowers from different families, and viewed portions of the flower using high power microscopes. The next day was outdoors at Skyline Regional Park for field work and how to collect process specimens. As we started out on the Mountain Wash trail, one of the leaders made a comment: “This is not a fitness hike; this is a botany hike. We may only go a few hundred yards in an hour”. She emphasized that note taking is important. The location UTM and elevation, is noted. The details of the area (e.g. sandy soil, disturbed area) are distinguished. For each plant collected, the botanical name is used. This is the Latin or scientific name, instead of the regional common name. All plants in the immediate area are listed.