Forestiera Desert Olives: Information On Growing New Mexico Olive Trees

Forestiera Desert Olives: Information On Growing New Mexico Olive Trees

By: Teo Spengler

The New Mexico olive tree is a large deciduous shrub that grows well in hot, dry areas. It works well in hedges or as an ornamental specimen, offering fragrant yellow flowers and showy, berry-like fruit. If you’d like more New Mexico olive tree facts or want to learn something about desert olive cultivation, read on.

New Mexico Olive Tree Facts

The New Mexico olive (Forestiera neomexicana) is also known as desert olive tree because it thrives in hot, sunny regions. New Mexico olive usually grows many spiny branches. The bark is an interesting shade of white. Tiny but very fragrant yellow flowers appear on the shrub in clusters in spring even before the leaves. They are an important nectar source for bees.

Later in summer, the plant produces attractive blue-black fruit. The fruit are shaped like eggs but only the size of berries. These attract birds that enjoy eating the fruit. Forestiera desert olives grow rapidly to their full height, which can be as tall as 15 feet (4.5 m.) Their spread is about the same.

New Mexico Olive Tree Care

Growing New Mexico olive trees is not difficult in the right location, and the species has a reputation for being easy maintenance. It thrives in dry, sunny areas without shade, which is why it is so popular in New Mexico. Forestiera desert olives thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9.

The shrubs prefer all-day sun but will grow in a site with ample morning sun and afternoon shade. Another reason New Mexico olive tree care is easy is that the plant is not picky about soil. You can start growing New Mexico olive trees in clay soil, sandy soil, or average soil.

All plants, including Forestiera desert olives, require irrigation when they are first transplanted. This enables them to build up strong root systems. Once established, however, desert olive cultivation doesn’t require much water. Still, the shrubs grow faster if you give them a drink from time to time in dry weather.

If you enjoy pruning and shaping your bushes, you’ll love growing New Mexico olive trees. New Mexico olive tree care can include trimming the shrub to increase the number of branches. This works especially well if you are using the shrub in a hedge. Alternatively, once you start growing New Mexico olive trees, you can remove all branches but one to force the shrub into a tree shape.

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Snake Biology

Snakes are ectotherms, meaning they control their body temperature by absorbing or giving off heat. Because their body temperature is affected by environmental temperatures and varies with surrounding conditions, snakes become inactive during very hot and very cold times of day and seasons. During periods of inactivity, snakes can go for several weeks without eating.

Because they are cold-blooded, snakes must rely on their behavior to regulate body temperature. During the hot part of the day, snakes move to shaded areas. On cool days, they sun themselves in warm, open areas. Snakes often seek out paved roads, where they are attracted by heat from the road surface.

Because snakes have a backbone, they are classified as vertebrates. Among other vertebrates like fish, mammals, birds and people, the snake’s skeletal system is unique. Snake bones are very light and the skeleton is highly flexible. The lower jaw and skull are connected by a piece of stretchy material (ligament) that allows the snake to open its mouth very wide and move each jaw independently. Thus, snakes can swallow prey much larger than their head by “walking” their mouth around the food from side to side in a forward movement.

Snakes are very specialized animals with no legs, ears or eyelids. There are no “walking” snakes. Often the sex organs of a snake may protrude from the anal plate area and can be confused with legs.

Snakes use their forked tongue to smell, constantly flicking it to pick up any airborne particles and odors. Once a snake detects an aroma, it inserts its tongue into two holes on the top of its mouth (Jacobson’s organ), where the smells are interpreted by its brain. If the snake detects food and is hungry, it will pursue the animal.

Contrary to popular belief, snakes are not slimy. In fact, they feel dry to the touch. Snake scales and skin help retain body moisture. Snakes shed their skin and eye covering together.

Soon after temperatures rise in the spring, snakes come out of hibernation and mate. Some snakes lay eggs in a damp, protected area where they will hatch in about two months. Other snakes hatch eggs inside the body. Once the young have been hatched or born, the parents do not care for their offspring because they are able to take care of themselves.

All snakes are predators, and many are fussy eaters. Bull snakes eat rats, mice and chipmunks. King snakes feed on other snakes, mice, young birds and bird eggs. The smooth green snake eats small-bodied insects and spiders. Toads are the favorite food of hognose snakes.

When people encounter a snake, they often corner it. The snake responds by hissing loudly, opening its mouth in a threatening manner, coiling up and striking at the person—or bluffing by advancing toward the intruder. These behaviors, intended to scare off the intruder, lead to a common misconception that snakes charge or attack people. In most cases, a snake advances only if it feels threatened. Usually, it crawls away if it can reach cover safely.

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