|New Mexico Locust (Robinia neomexicana)|
|Photo by Utah State University|
I have already written a much deeper piece on it's ecology in the wild environment, but it has practical applications in the home garden or landscape where you may be in an area with challenging situations. My first encounter was in Ruidoso, New Mexico where our family went to a reunion and rented Cabins. My son Jared was about 4 years old at the time. I was actually pretty excited to find this tree as I had only seen it referenced occasionally in my monthly subscription to Arizona Highways magazine.It was a fun time because believe it or not it was 'monsoon season' for the southwest which is my favourite time of year when tropical moisture from Mexico works it's way north and creates those electrical billowing cloud thunderstorms you see across the wide open spaces. My son was excited and constantly pointing out all the Thunderstorm electrical flashes by saying to his cousin, "Hey Rebecca, did you see that YightYing" He was only four years old and couldn't pronounce his "L"s.
Needless to say I dug up a small inch high seedling which in actuality wasn't so much a seedling from seed as it was a tiny clone I cut out of some taller parent tree's rhizomatous root system. Yes they have a nasty habit of spreading underground and popping up with clones even 30' away from my own experience. Yet there is something kool about them. They look like they need to be kept in a lush environment, but can actually do well and be kept in check by an arid environment that is hot and dry. This was in summer of 1992 I believe and I'm thinking we drove over with my sister-in-law and her two kids. I remember because they were all including my wife bugged at me for pulling off and stopping at all these place I'd read in Marshall Timble's "Arizona Roadside History" & "Arizona Place Names".
Anyway, I planted this tree in among some of the bush-like small trees native to our area called Redshank or Ribbonwood (Adenostoma sparsifolium) which I had thinned out as they tend to grow in dense stands. I found the right spot and almost immediately this little 4" high tree began taking off. So much so that it grew over 6 feet in height the rest of that year. Suddenly I wondered what I had gotten myself into, especially the following year when it spread and suckered producing more tree clones of itself. But it never really did get out of hand. I did maintain several trees in the area as that was actually my intention, but the vigorousness of the thing was a bit spooky at first. It has never grown taller than I'd say 12 or 15 feet as of last checking. I don't live there anymore but my wife and I flew back over there last year from Sweden to visit and we stopped by the place. Here is what it looks like today.
|Photo by Kevin Franck|
In the above photo, look to the left and up. In the foreground below this is a native Sugarbush (Rhus ovata) which is another one of those interesting almost maintenance free shrubs that takes care of itself once established.
|photo by Native Rival Nursery|
Next, once again, look to the left of the photograph and you'll get a better look of the original tree I planted along with a few of it's clones in the background.
|Photo by Kevin Franck|
For a further deeper read on New Mexico Locust (Robinia neomexicana) please see my "Earth's Internet & Natural Networking"