WSU Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center

Jerry's Kloshe Woods blog

Great Plains mesas, volcanoes and oaks

Last updated April 27, 2011

View from the top of the Capulin volcano, New Mexico

During my August 2010 plant exploring trip to New Mexico, I enjoyed the diversity of the volcanoes, mesas, and grasslands of northeastern NM and the panhandle of OK. Because the Rocky Mountains, Great Plains, and Chihuahuan desert all coverge in this area, the flora and fauna are equally diverse.

For the oak (Quercus) lover it creates additional interest because the many shrub and small tree oaks are the results of the hybridization of as many as five species: gambelli from the Rocky Mountains; mohriana and grisea from the Chihuahuan; and havardii and muehlenbergii from the Great Plains).

Wavy-leaf oak (Q. undulata, polite name for hybrid)

Wasp searching for prey on Mohr oak (Q. mohriana)

The Mohr oak (Q. mohriana) is adapted to the soil derived from sedimentary rock as found on the mesas, and the gray oak (Q. grisea) to that of the volcanic rock.

Mesas between Kenton, OK and Folsom, NM

"Lizard" west of Kenton, OK

 I spent the night in this area at the Kiowa National Grassland campground along the Canadian River near Mills, NM. Thanks to the National Forest Service for providing these facilities and making the visit that much easier.

Wetlands on the Kiowa National Grassland near Mills, NM

Probably the most memorable bird from visit to the mesa country was a blue kite (correct English name is Mississippi Kite, but it's hard to use that name for such a beautiful bird in this arid country). The kite is a raptor, which specializes by feeding on large insects plucked off the top of trees and shrubs.