Giving and Taking
Legumes - members of the pea family - illustrate
unusual interralationships between desert animal
and plant life.
Mesquite trees have hard, stone-like seeds which
rarely sprout. However, the seeds soften rapidly
after passing through the digestive tracts of
animals and, when excreted, are ready for
The legume replinishes nitrogen removed from the
soil by other plants. Nodules on legume roots
convert atmospheric nitrogen absorbed by the
plant for release into the soil.
Look for legumes (mesquite, palo verde, ironwood,
acacia) growing in washes where they create a
welcome micro-climate for birds, reptiles, rabbits
and rodents. The bean pods supply sugar-rich
food for deer and other animals; insects feed on
the dropped vegetation, which returns valuable
nutrients to the soil.