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The Green Packrat

Updated on August 30, 2017

My Favorite Color is Green

And I am a packrat. For being a desert dweller, loving green is a bit odd, or is it? Well, I like any color from blue to green, and everything in between. This is a small part of my collection of green things.

I am intrigued by things like green flowers, people who are named "Green", green birds, green trunked trees, sunlight shining through green leaves, green fish, green folk art, and green rocks. I like to collect photos of the mountains when they are green. I will go out of my way to visit mountain ranges that are normally purple and brown, but turn green after good rains.

I imagine my living in the desert means I appreciate green things more than most people.

I even once learned about a green mammal, the Three-toed Sloth. Seems that he collects algae on his fur, which turns it green.

Photo credit: Thowra_UK/Creative Commons.

Unless otherwise noted, photos are mine.

What is a Packrat?

Neotoma cinerea

A packrat is a rodent that lives in the desert (among other places). They make burrows in the ground, and fill them with THINGS. A favorite thing is pieces of cholla cactus (for food). So be careful if you try to investigate. You'll end up all stuck up! But they also like to collect pretty baubles, things that sparkle and the like. So when someone likes to collect anything and everything, we call her a packrat. That's me!

The image is in the public domain.

It's Spring!

Time to concentrate on fresh, green things, sometimes with flowers. Some of you haven't gotten spring yet. We've had it for several weeks.

The last time I drove up to Mount Lemmon, there were these vibrant green bushes on the side of the mountain, and they just about knocked my eyes out! I think they're Burroweed, but I'm not sure. I didn't get any pictures of the ones on the side of the hill, from a distance, because the opportunity didn't present itself (there are some car pullouts, but not enough). When I pulled out, I was so close, I only got a small piece of it.

Rainbow Lorikeet

I got this picture at the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch. That's why I went there, to get pictures of this bird. He has enough green to be included here.

Green birds are fairly easy to find. Fish not so much, at least not yet for me.

How About Some Green Water?

Periodically, the water bubbles up in this spot at Reid Park. I was surprised at how green the water is, but the lake is full of STUFF, so maybe I shouldn't have been. I thought it makes a pretty picture.


Also known as Carrion Flower because the stink draws flies, which the plant captures and uses as food. The flowers are shaped like stars, and look a little like leather. It is a succulent (not a cactus) and is grown in people's gardens. I have some in mine.


It reminds me of green beans when I look at the picture, but not when I see it in person. This is growing at the Tucson Botanical Gardens. I don't know what species it is.

Tropical Plant

I found these green leaves in the greenhouse at the Tucson Botanical Gardens. They keep tropical plants and butterflies in the greenhouse.

Green Scene

These are large aloe plants, and live right outside the hummingbird aviary at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.


Agave parryi couesii. This is a succulent. This looks very similar to Agave americana, which is commonly known as the Century Plant because people thought it took a century to flower. Actually, it takes just a few years. The plant grows this huge stalk (up to 24 feet in height), which blooms, and this whole process just takes a couple of months. After that, the plant dies. The stalk is very woody. The plant uses the material in the thick leaves to grow the stalk, and it is said that if you listen carefully on a quiet night, you can hear it growing.

Agave is used to make tequila and agave nectar. The natives used to use the fibers from the leaves for sewing.

The Pond Is Green!

The first time I saw this at Sweetwater Wetlands, my first reaction was, ugh! It's all choked up with algae. Come to find out it's probably Duckweed, and considering it only inhabits some of the ponds, it is obviously being cultivated there. The Coots sure like it! There were about 20 in the pond.


Do you like green?

Green Vase

From my personal collection. I don't remember where I got this one.

Praying Mantis

From my personal collection. We used to have some like this where I lived when I first moved to Arizona, but where I live now, all we get are little brown ones. This was a gift from a family member.


From my personal collection. My recollection is that I got this one at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. He's completely green on the underside.

Geckos are frequently used to decorate houses; they are considered to bring luck and longevity. Don't know about that part. I've had geckos cross my path a number of times, but I don't feel any younger! You know, that's like a black cat crossing my path, which because we were owned by various black cats, happened too many times to count, and I'm still here. I don't walk under ladders, either.


From my personal collection. These gorgeous translucent green crystals tend to be quite small, and specimens are expensive. I keep looking for a bigger and better one (that I can afford, of course) whenever I go to the Gem and Mineral Show.

A Green Horse of Course

From my personal collection. I don't remember where I got this one.


From my personal collection. Probably hand-blown in Italy. The objects in the center are probably hollow.


From my personal collection. Native American art, signed by Roberta Angeles, who painted it. I got this at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

Malachite Egg

From my personal collection. I love malachite, and have several carved pieces, and some in the raw. This is a local mineral, but it's hard to find good pieces when you go rockhounding because they already mined the good stuff.


I collect dragons, and have quite a few, from all over the world.


From my personal collection. I think this one belonged to my mother-in-law. Most hummingbirds have green backs, at least in the United States.

Broad-billed Hummingbird

I think...

Cynanthus latirostris.

Most hummingbirds that visit the United States have green somewhere on their bodies.

Magnificent Hummingbird - Eugenes fulgens

He wears his green around his neck.

Berylline Hummingbird - Amazilia beryllina

This is a two-toned hummingbird, green and rust. He's really beautiful!

I found this one and the Magnificent in the Huachuca Mountains.

Black Triggerfish - Melichthys niger

The story behind this fish is if there isn't much light, he looks black. If there is moderate light, he looks dark green. And if there is more light, he looks like this photo. This is a species of the Sea of Cortez.

This is the closest I have been able to come to a green fish.

Catalina Mountains

Covered with dark green Manzanitas in this shot.

Catalina Mountains

Covered with green grass and some green bushes.

Agua Caliente Palms - Washingtonia robusta

This is a city park which I think was donated by the Drachman family, one of the earlier entrepreneurs in Tucson. There is a fairly large lake, and there are many palms on one side, and other kinds of greenery elsewhere in and around the lake. In the park, away from the water, there are also trees, which are usually about as green as such trees get in the desert, mostly dark green. This would mainly include Mesquite.

There is one native palm in the Sonoran Desert, the Washington Palm. The drupes are popular with the birds, especially the mallards. There are long strands hanging down during certain seasons, first yellow, and then dark.

Agua Caliente is a very good place to go birding.

On the Way to Bartlett Lake

Darker green bushes are much more common in the desert. This is a hillside near Bartlett Lake, NE of Phoenix.

On the Way to Boyce-Thompson

Boyce-Thompson Arboretum is located near Superior, Arizona. This is a scene in part of the gorge along the highway. It is always a pleasure to run across such brilliantly green trees. Less obvious are the Brittlebushes on the hillside, blooming with yellow flowers.


These are the mountains behind the arboretum. With the green trees of the arboretum in the foreground, they make a pretty sight.

Catalina State Park

Catalina State Park is at the foot of the Catalina Mountains.

Parts of the park get exceedingly green in spring. This shows a stand of Fiddlenecks and tall grasses. There are lots of those in the bosque areas. Last time I was there, we hadn't had rain for a couple of weeks, but the main stream was still running. I had to wade across. My shoes are beginning to show I do stuff like that.

Other parts of the park will boast a spread of California Poppies.

Most people don't think the desert ever gets this green.

Huachuca Mountains

The Huachucas are located west of Fort Huachuca, and extend southward to Mexico. They keep a blimp tethered to the mountains. It looks for illegals sneaking over the border.

This photo shows the thick forest of pines and other trees, that looks just like a tropical forest from a distance. A couple of years ago, there was a nasty fire that burned a sizable portion of this forest.

There is a guest ranch in the mountains that has many different species of hummingbirds in the summer, Spotted Owls (which are endangered) and other interesting birds. They kept an orchard of 1300 apple trees, and made quite a bit of money selling apples from the trees. Keep in mind that apple trees have to experience freezing weather in order to bear fruit. In the mountains and higher elevations, they get the necessary cold weather. The forest fire destroyed about 1000 of the trees, and the "City" of Tombstone destroyed a bunch more. The owners are planting more, but they will take time to bear fruit.

In the meantime, enjoy the memories of what once was.

There is a storm building up in this photo.

Lockett Meadow

This is a lesser known area in the San Francisco Peaks, north of Flagstaff. The desert there is not the Sonoran Desert, but the Mojave Desert. This photo was taken in the summer, and shows green aspens and pines. The Mojave Desert tends to have less vegetation and less variety than the Sonoran Desert.

Midori - Violinist of renown

An interlude. I'll get back to green scenes in a minute.

Midori is a violinist who plays beautifully. What has always intrigued me about her is that her name, Midori, means "green" in Japanese. A westerner probably wouldn't understand why a Japanese couple would name their girl "Midori", but I think it is a beautiful sounding word anyway. I remember when Midori first came on the scene as just a youngster. I was intrigued from the very beginning. This recording is from her Carnegie Hall debut, and the piece she plays would be of interest to both classical music lovers and folk music lovers.

Midori in a Green Dress

Midori made her debut under Zubin Mehta at the age of 11. Here she plays an excerpt from Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35.

Ajo Mountains

Photo taken from within the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Notice the green bushes all the way up the slope. The flowers are Brittlebush.

Ajo Mountains

A rainbow of earth colors, with green.

More Ajo Mountains

The road is one way around through the mountains. This is just before you leave the mountains and travel in flat land back to the beginning.

Patagonia Lake

Lots of green trees in places. This is near where people can swim. There is a turkey vulture in the tree in the center of the picture.

Santa Rita Mountains

This is a view from Patagonia Lake up the southern face of the Santa Rita Mountains, which are south of Tucson. The plant in the foreground is a Desert Broom. Some people are allergic to the flowers and seeds, unfortunately.

If you travel from here to Patagonia and then Sonoita and then head north toward I-10, you will pass through hills that are covered in green velvet when there has been rain. These are grass, and they turn golden when they dry out.

The Other Side of the Santa Ritas

On the way into Madera Canyon (pretty much just barely into the canyon.)

Between Sonoita and Sierra Vista

This is all grassland, and they graze a lot of cattle here. As you can see, the area beyond the fence is well grazed, while there are tall weeds on this side.

They also grow grapes and make wine in this area.

Here are some of the cattle. The windmill supplied water for them.

Lost Dutchman State Park

In the Superstition Mountains west of Phoenix. Very green with scattered California Poppies. Hmmm. Sounds like a weather forecast!

Sweetwater Wetlands

Ponds from the wastewater treatment facilities for Tucson water these trees. This is an excellent birding area.

Tucson Mountains

Green cactus, bushes, and yellow brittlebush.

Tucson Mountains

South end.

Tucson Mountains

North end.

Collared Lizard - Crotaphytus collaris

I've seen lots of brown lizards, gray lizards, and patterned lizards, but this is the only species I have seen in the wild that is greenish. I found this one in the Wupatki Ruins in northern Arizona. But we get them on the window screens frequently.

Flower in Xenodream

Now for a few green fractals.

I told you I collect green everything. ;)


Made in Ultrafractal.


A translucent fractal sculpture made in Xenodream.

Green Flower 2

Apophysis flame fractal.

Green Stained Glass


Midori no Nori


There's that word "midori" again. This title means "Green seaweed".

Helter Skelter


My Little Hideaway

Made in Vue d'Esprit.

I'm not satisfied just with scenes I can photograph. I need to make green digital landscapes, too.


A Liturgical Color

The Lutheran Church is one of several denominations that observe the church year. The church year is a list of Sundays with scriptural passages assigned to them. Most of the church year consists of different Sundays, each of which concentrate on some aspect of the life of Jesus. Christmas and Easter are part of the liturgical calendar. Obviously, the dates on which things occurred in Jesus' life are not known, and don't occur in the span of a year. However, commemorating each event through His life within the span of a year is certainly appropriate.

One of the Sundays is called Trinity Sunday. On this Sunday, the church focuses on the doctrine of the Trinity. The true God is Triune, which is to say, one God, made up of three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is not an easy concept for a lot of people to understand, and I do not fully understand it, either, though I am comfortable with it. It is often explained that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but they are not three gods but one God. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father.

While the word "Trinity" does not appear in the Bible, the definition does. Matthew 28:19 says "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name [singular, one name] of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."

After Trinity Sunday, there are a number of Sundays left over, spanning summer until the beginning of Advent.

The Lutheran Church (and other churches) also observe liturgical colors. In the Lutheran Church, the Sundays after Trinity use green for altar cloths and vestments (what the pastor wears during a service).

This ancient symbol represents the Trinity. Here, I have made it green.

Green Flowers

Green flowers are rare. These are on a cactus, but I don't know the identity of the cactus. Maybe someday I'll figure it out. In the meantime, I just enjoy the flowers.

Tailed Jay - Graphium agamemnon

Let's end with some green butterflies.

Green-banded Peacock - Papilio palinurus

Bamboo Page - Philaethria dido

Malachite - Siproeta stelenes


It's mid-October, hmmm, maybe 2 months after I wrote this, maybe 3. I was at the butterfly exhibit, and one of the volunteers was wearing this T-shirt. I just had to add this to my green collection. She gave me permission to photograph it. :)

Purple Star, Lens of the Day

Thank you to everyone involved who brought about my receipt of a Purple Star. It is deeply appreciated. Thank you also for Lens of the Day and for choosing this Lens for the Squidoo Imminent Highlight Reel. Thank you for all the comments and squidlikes. You folks are awesome! I deeply appreciate all the support!

Please leave your thoughts. I promise to give them back.


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