Plants of the Ojo

The Ojo lands are divided into three distinct plant zones; Bosque, riparian and desert. There is some overlap and mixing of plants between Bosque/riparian and desert/Bosque.

Along the immediate edge of the river is found a variety of plant life which needs more constant water. Willow and cottonwood can find enough water in the immediate flood plain and wet edge of the river. Cacti and juniper of the drier desert lands can establish in the Bosque in spots that are less subject to soaking from summer flash floods. Different flowers for different conditions, are widely distributed.

Russian olive, a highly successful, introduced tree species, has thoroughly entrenched itself in most Bosques of northern New Mexico. This thorny tree does have a sweet smelling bloom in the spring, but thick stands prevent sunlight from reaching the valley floor, greatly diminishing plant variety. On the Ojo we are removing Russian olive in a way that is not harmful to the surrounding plants and some areas are now five years or more R.O. free and recovering nicely.

The pinon die off of 2000-2004 indeed killed many larger pinon trees in the area. We notice many smaller pinons, however, attempting a comeback. These small pines are scattered in with the more abundant junipers in the drier areas of the land. In the Bosque, many junipers have come to occupy higher and therefore drier areas. The summer 2014 Bosque flood, coupled with the 'glacial' ice deposit that formed later that winter, soaked the root systems of many of these junipers and we can observe a die off happening as these trees generally cannot survive once their root systems have been soaked.


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