Ironwood Forest National Monument

The 129,000 acre Ironwood Forest National Monument can be found southeast of Phoenix AZ near Saguaro National Monument. Elevations here range from 1,800 to more than 4,200 feet. Dense stands of Ironwood (Olneya tesota) can be found here. Ironwoods can live over 800 years and the wood is so dense and rot-resistant that stumps may stay standing for over 1500 years.

Recent studies by the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum nearby have documented 560 other plant species here. The endangered Nichols Turk's Head Cactus can be found here in limestone areas. The higher elevations are mostly Juniper and Pinyon with the lower elevations being Sonoran Desert plant communities.  Elephant Tree (Bursera microphylla) can be found here as well.

This is also a very special area for fauna. The last remaining relict herd of Desert Bighorn Sheep in southeastern Arizona live here. A very few of endangered Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium brasilianum cactorum) have been found here. Only 28 owls were found in 2006 by researchers in Arizona. They live in holes in Saguaro and Organ Pipe Cactus.


Desert Ironwood

Indicator species of the Sonoran Desert. Wood is extremely dense. The most important nurse plant in the Sonoran Desert region, in terms of shade, cooling for seedlings in summer heat, warmth during frosts, seeds that collect around the tree after flash floods, seed dispersal by the large number of species that seek shelter there. The tree can live to be 1,000 years old, though it rarely grows taller than 35 feet.

Desert Ironwood tree in the Eastern Mojave
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