Botanical and Cultural Adventures

Botanical and Cultural Adventures

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Oaxaca, Oaxaca (Forget New York, New York)

Santo Domingo
People seem to love the idea of New York, New York. There is a lot to do and it is a worldly city...but it has nothing on Oaxaca, Oaxaca!

It is hard to describe the wide range of interesting things to see and do in the city of Oaxaca (wa-HOCK-a). People from around the world love it for different reasons. As a plant person, I am drawn to the state and the region which is one of the world's biodiversity hot spots. Oaxaca has an incredibly high number of endemic species and amazing range of ecological diversity. Surprisingly, an amazing volume of this biodiversity is represented in a single garden in the heart of downtown Oaxaca! The Ethnobotanical Garden focuses on the relationship of this rich plant life and the people. Located on the grounds of the Santo Domingo Church, this botanical garden is a true jewel found just blocks away from the main Zรณcalo.

What a difference a day makes...

Well more appropriately, what a difference a season makes.  Most of Mexico experiences distinct wet and dry seasons.  When we are having our winter much of Mexico is dry and sunny, while during our summers they are getting their monsoonal rains.  Therefore, plants have to manage to survive through the long dry periods.  In the deserts the trees, shrubs, and annual plants drop their leaves or die back. Bromeliads – in this case, the genus Hechtia – along with other succulents like Agaves and Echeverias have adapted to thrive in times like this with novel metabolic pathways that reduced water loss, succulent tissue that stores water, radial symmetry creating a rosette of leaves to draw in any possibly moisture from fog and light rains down to the roots, and sometimes (like in many of the Hechtia) deep reaching roots that search for ground water.