Page 69 - Walks In The Black Range, Vol. 4
P. 69

  10. Ciénega Trail - City of Rocks State Park
The Ciénega Trail is just north of NM-61, within City of Rocks State Park. The walk as shown on the following page is 2.07 miles long with minimal elevation change, 166’ between the lowest and highest points on the trail with some up and down. The trail crosses the Faywood Ciénega near the park boundary. “The Faywood Ciénega is in the southwest corner of the Park. It is one of only two ciénegas in the area that have remained wet. The other is Faywood Hot Springs. The rest of the ciénegas in the area have dried, mostly due to water extraction, cattle
grazing, and subsequent downcutting of arroyo channels, which will lower water tables.” (p. 10 of the 2016 Park Management Plan).
A ciénega (aka ciénaga) “is
a wetland system unique to
the American Southwest.1
Ciénagas are alkaline,
freshwater, spongy, wet
meadows with shallow-
gradient, permanently
saturated soils in otherwise
arid landscapes that often
occupy nearly the entire
widths of valley bottoms.
That description satisfies
historic, pre-damaged
ciénagas, although few can be described that way now. Incised ciénagas are common today. Ciénagas are usually associated with seeps or springs, found in canyon headwaters or along margins of streams. Ciénagas often occur because the geomorphology forces water to the surface, over large areas, not merely through a single pool or channel. In a healthy ciénaga, water slowly migrates through long, wide-scale mats of thick, sponge-like wetland sod. Ciénaga soils are squishy, permanently saturated, highly organic, black in color (and)
anaerobic.” (Wikipedia)
The following entries are keyed to the map found on the
next page.
A. On March 5, Lomatium nevadense, Biscuit Root, (photo top right) was just beginning to express itself.
B. On May 20, we found many Band-winged Grasshoppers along the upper part of the trail. The individual pictured above is probably an Aztec Grasshopper, Lactisa azteca. In “Foliage Insects and Termites”, Walt Whitford (January 3, 2020 issue of this magazine, p. 22) noted that Band-winged Grasshoppers are the “most common ground loving grasshoppers in the northern Chihuahuan Desert”. Band-
winged Grasshoppers are a subfamily (Oedipodinae), which has several tribes, which, in-turn, have several genera, each genus may have several species (or only one). Given the number of possible species which this individual can be attributed to, and given it is a photograph - not a specimen - I will stick with “probably” as my assurance of a correct identification.
C. Krameria lanceolata, Trailing Krameria, (photograph from May 20, following the map on the next page) is found in the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Coahuila as well as in the counties shown in the BONAP map below. Like other species in the genus, K. lanceolata is a root parasite, sucking a variety of nutrients - but especially water - from its hosts. The Krameria genus has an unusual pollination biology. Its flowers produce fatty oil, not nectar. Female bees of the genus Centris collect the oils from the modified external surfaces of the
eliaphores (what appear to be upright flags), pollinating the flower in the process, and mix the oils with pollen to feed their larvae. Although the

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