After Las Estellas, the field trip group headed to Rancho Lomitas where Benito Trevino shared his knowledge of plants of the Tamaulipan thorn scrub. We learned about how cochineal became a valued commodity to the Spaniards. It is an insect that grows on prickly pear cactus (white mounds) and is used to produce carmine dye. Until the advent of synthetic dyes and pigments it was the best ‘red.’
Also the desert Christmas cholla’s berries can be used to sooth a sore throat….if one knows the process to remove the small thorns. First, use a stick to know off berries. Use the stick to separate the berries from the green part of the plant. Use a bunch of grass to move the berries around in the pebbles and dust. When the thorns appear to be gone…do it some more. I tried some. It tastes a little citrusy and would sooth the throat similarly to honey.
It was a mostly cloudy and cool day but the sun came out for a little while and we saw some butterflies.
There is a road runner that patrols the gardens.
We were walking along the road back to our van when Benito spotted a trap door spider and gently opened it with his knife; I would not have spotted it on my own!
A culinary treat for dessert after our lunch – some cookies made with mesquite floor. Maryland does not have mesquite trees but maybe I can find some if I visit my family in Texas at the right time!