Arizona - Flora and fauna



Generally categorized as desert, Arizona's terrain also includes mesa and mountains; consequently, the state has a wide diversity of vegetation. The desert is known for many varieties of cacti, from the saguaro, whose blossom is the state flower, to the cholla and widely utilized yucca. Desert flowers include the night-blooming cereus; among medicinal desert flora is the jojoba, also harvested for its oil-bearing seeds. Below the tree line (about 12,000 ft, or 3,658 m) the mountains are well timbered with varieties of spruce, fir, juniper, ponderosa pine, oak, and piñon. Rare plants, some of them endangered or threatened, include various cacti of commercial or souvenir value.

Arizona's fauna range from desert species of lizards and snakes to the deer, elk, and antelope of the northern highlands. Mountain lion, jaguar, coyote, and black and brown bears are found in the state, along with the badger, black-tailed jackrabbit, and gray fox. Small mammals include various cottontails, mice, and squirrels; prairie dog towns dot the northern regions. Rattlesnakes are abundant, and the desert is rife with reptiles such as the collared lizard and chuckwalla. Native birds include the thick-billed parrot, white pelican, and cactus wren (the state bird).

Forty-one animal species and 19 plant species were listed as endangered or threatened as of August 2003 by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Arizona counts the desert tortoise and lesser long-nosed bat among its threatened wildlife. Officially listed as endangered or threatened in 2003 were the southern bald eagle, masked bobwhite (quail), Sonoran pronghorn, ocelot, jaguar, black-footed ferret, four species of chub, two species of gray wolf, woundfin, Apache trout, Gila topminnow, Gila trout, and southwestern willow flycatcher.



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