The desert might seem like a dry, dead place, but don’t let the scorching summer temps fool you — its thriving with plants that have been used in holistic medicine for centuries.
The Sonoran Desert is full of diverse plants and animals thanks to the mild winters and monsoon summers that give life to a plethora of painfully poky and beautifully colored plants not found in other deserts across the world.
With more than 3,500 native plant species, the Sonoran Desert has the most plant life north of the tropics. Some of the common types of plants in the Sonoran Desert include cholla, prickly pear cactus, mesquite, ironwood, and palo verde. In such desolate conditions, cacti fruits ensure the abundant wildlife a reliable food source. In contrast, mesquite and palo verde trees provide must-have shade for our feathered, furry, and scaly friends.
At Gaia Provides, we are combining the healing benefits of cannabis and the beauty of the Sonoran Desert with the release of our CBD Bombs of The Desert collection. Each bath bomb captures a different essence of the Sonoran experience: Arizona Sunset, Monsoon, Desert Sage, Prickly Pear, and Honey Mesquite. The exciting part is this new collection features locally sourced ingredients and extracts like agave, creosote, sage, desert wildflowers, prickly pear fruit, desert honey, and mesquite. Each of these plants not only has unforgettable traits but health benefits as well.
In this article, we highlight the iconic features of the Sonoran Desert and explore the holistic benefits of the ingredients that inspired our new CBD Bombs of The Desert collection.
The Sonoran Desert's Unique Features
The distinct animal life is another feature that makes Sonoran stand out from other deserts. The Sonoran Desert is home to a large array of animals, birds and other desert creatures. Some of the larger mammals you will find here are the javelina, coyote, mexican wolf, bighorn sheep, mountain lion and bobcat. The largest population of hummingbirds are found in the Sonoran Desert, along with 35% of all North American butterflies. More than 450 species of birds nest or migrate along the Sonoran rivers, and there are 96 reptiles not found anywhere else in the world. Many bird species are native to the area, including the greater roadrunner, Gila woodpecker, and the burrowing owl.
If you type Sonoran Desert into Google, there is one commonality in all the photos: the iconic Saguaro Cactus. This cactus is an eclectic piece of the Sonoran Desert, and like the majesty of the desert itself, the Saguaro stands noticeably tall and is easy to point out amongst the desert landscape. This species of cactus is native to the Sonoran region — not found anywhere else in the world. Two essential elements of the local climate directly contribute to the Saguaro’s ability to survive and thrive in the region: climate and rainfall.
Subtropical deserts are hot during the day, especially during the summer. Luckily, the temperatures drop at night by more than 25 degrees, thanks to the low humidity. That means summer nights cool down, and winter months can be frigid, sometimes even icy. The Sonoran Desert is the only desert in North America that experiences mild winters. Frost rarely lasts longer than a day in this region. For a Saguaro cactus, a low frost home is crucial, because it cannot survive prolonged freezing temperatures.
Due to a unique set of weather pattern formations, the Sonoran Desert experiences what is known as a Monsoon season; it occurs every summer. The North American Monsoon typically affects Arizona, New Mexico, Southern California, Utah, and Colorado. This cherished weather cycle brings much-needed thunderstorms and rain that quenches plants thirst and provides relief from the sweltering summer sun.
And while most deserts receive sporadic rainfall during winter, the bi-seasonal rain the Sonoran experiences from the monsoons is the reason the Saguaro cactus flourishes. Monsoon season is essential to the Saguaro’s survival.
The Saguaro blooms just before the monsoon season arrives. If you sit patiently outside in the evening, just as the sun is setting, you may catch a glimpse of the nocturnal pollinators who visit the flowers — the lesser long-nosed bat and the Mexican long-tongued bat. Once pollinated the saguaro produces a a bright red fruit with small black seeds.
Our Treasured Sonoran Ingredients
The richness and variety of life in the Sonoran Desert are awe-inspiring, but their unique characteristics also put them at risk. Species that are limited to small specific areas are prone to extinction because they can’t migrate elsewhere.
Our Bath Bombs of the Desert collection is a way to educate the public and spread awareness about the unique life that thrives in the Sonoran Desert. Understanding the delicacy of our ecology will better prepare us for protecting our local habitat for many years to come.
Prickly Pear Cactus
The Saguaro cactus usually gets all the glory, but there’s another famous cactus of the Sonoran region: the Prickly Pear. Unlike its statuesque cousin, the prickly pear is a more resilient cactus than the Saguaro and used for centuries by American Indians as a dye, food, cosmetics ingredient, mortar, and for alternative wellness.
Despite its spiky appearance, prickly pear fruit contains lots of health benefits. Studies show eating this fruit reduces blood sugar levels for people with type 2 diabetes, helps control cholesterol, reduces obesity, and fights viral infections (to name a few).
There are known benefits for skin application, too. Prickly pear has potent anti-aging and moisturizing properties and can reduce dark spots that happen with aging or sun damage, all without clogging pores.
Pretty impressive for a cactus, right?
Our CBD Prickly Pear bomb combines the benefits of cannabinoids with the healing powers of the prickly pear fruit. Enjoy the scent of Agave Musk and Prickly Pear in this must have addition.
Plants convert sunlight into energy by converting carbon dioxide and water into oxygen, but in arid conditions, the creosote bush is highly susceptible to losing water. Being the genius that nature is, the creosote bush has come up with a creative solution: limiting carbon dioxide intake during the morning hours when temperatures are low and humidity is at its peak. During this time, the creosote bush takes advantage of the small window of opportunity by facing east and absorbing as much sunlight as possible.
But that’s not the only interesting fact about creosote!
The leaves of the plant secrete oils that release a combination of calming and pleasant scents like pine, citrus, and rosemary. After a monsoon storm occurs, there is a distinctive desert rain scent any desert dweller, summer vacationer, or monsoon observer will never forget. This distinct aroma comes from the creosote oils that diffuse into the air from the wind and heavy rain.
In addition to the uplifting smells, these oils are nourishing for your skin. Creosote oil is an anti-inflammatory, astringent, and helps to heal wounds and relax sore muscles, which is why we created our CBD Monsoon Bomb — bringing you relief and relaxation with the combined power of cannabis and creosote.
Sonoran Honey & The Mesquite Tree
The Tucson area alone has between 1,000-1,200 native bee species, and while not all of them are honey bees, the populations that do make it create some exquisite mesquite honey.
Mesquite trees have a variety of uses and benefits. The beans and pods can be consumed whole or ground into flour. The wood has a variety of applications, whether it’s constructing ships, crafting bows, or smoking meats. The sap that oozes from the tree soothes skin burns and sore throats.
And of course, the concentrated pollination of these trees creates that deliciously distinct mesquite honey that Gaia Provides utilizes in our Mesquite Honey bath bomb. Honey is a natural antimicrobial and moisturizer rich in nutrients and vitamins that keep your skin and hair silky smooth, offering acne-fighting and hydrating properties.
A Little Desert Love
There’s no place like the Sonoran Desert — the poky plants and hummingbirds, the distinct smell of creosote in the air after monsoon rains, and endless good hair days are a few of our favorite things.
We hope you have a newfound appreciation of the Sonoran Desert and all its wonders after reading this article.