01 Jul I smell rain!
I smell rain!
It’s finally monsoon season in Southern Arizona, and the locals could not be more happy! Monsoon season signifies several things for folks living in this desert. First, the summer rains brings the harvest of the Saguaro fruit. Bright pink in color and full of seeds, this fruit is indicative of summer in Saguaro National Park. Historically, saguaro fruit is cultivated and used by the Tohono O’odham. The fruit also signifies the start of the phenology study! The Saguaro National Park has been running a 5 year long study on the blooming and fruiting patterns of saguaro populations. One of my favorite things about Saguaro National Park is the meeting of ancient cultural practices with modern scientific inquiry!
Monsoon season also means a much needed respite from the heat. Locals can tell when rain is coming even before clouds roll in, saying “it smells like rain!” I learned this smell is tied to the smell of the Creosote bush. Pictured to the right, this plant is indicated by small, elliptical leaves. Depending on the season, you may also find small yellow flowers or fuzzy white fruits. When the air is humid here, the leaves of the creosote begin to smell! This smell is often what we smell when it rains here. The next time you visit the Southwest, cup your hands around a branch of creosote and take a big whiff. Smells like rain!