‘House of the Desert’ in the land of the jungle

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A new desert garden is on display at the CICY. Photo: Courtesy

Mérida, Yucatán — Oh, how the garden grows at the city’s science center.

After four years of preparation, the Center for Scientific Research of Yucatan (click for map) has opened “La Casa del Desierto,” a new exhibit at the Roger Orellana Regional Botanical Garden.

On display are 500 plants and 350 species of cacti and succulents, both national and exotic species.

Margarita Clarisa Jiménez Bañuelos, deputy director of the botanical garden, and Lilia Emma Carrillo Sánchez, head of the collection, explained that the garden has 18 exhibits of living plants of regional interest and the new ones: “La Casa del Desierto” and “La Casa Tropical.”

“Here the public can have contact with plants from distant regions. When we pass through Chihuahua and Sonora or in the textbooks we have the opportunity to understand the plants of the desert or the semidesert,” said Jiménez Bañuelos. “Many of these plants are at risk of extinction and that is why it is very important to have them in the botanical garden to help conserve them.”

The scientists commented that this new collection has 351 species and there are almost 500 plants in arid and semi-arid areas, resistant to drought.

Cactaceae, they explained, are succulent; that is to say, they store water in their tissues so that in times of little rain, they do not die.

“La Casa del Desierto” has a polycarbonate roof that helps keep Yucatán’s famous humidity from passing to the plants. Underneath, water is allowed to filter quickly so plants don’t rot due to excess moisture.

Adding to the artificial ecosystem, the interior garden simulates desert wind and heat, to keep the plants dry.

Yucatán does naturally host some succulents, including “La despeinada” and pitahaya, or dragon fruit.

The former is also known as “Pata de elefante” or “Elephant Paw.” Its habitat is the driest area of ​​the Peninsula, nearer to the coast.

Source: Diario de Yucatán

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