New Mexico Outdoor
Roughing It In Luxury-Abiquiu, New Mexico 505.901.7321
New Mexico has one of the most diverse landscapes in the United States. The topographic and geologic diversity interact with the climatic features of temperature, wind, and precipitation to determine the plant diversity in New Mexico. In terms of size, New Mexico is the fifth largest state in the union while it is has the fourth highest plant diversity in terms of numbers of species.
Plant diversity in a particular region is often described in terms of vegetation diversity. Vegetation has two components: structure and floristic composition. Vegetation structure refers to the physiognomy such as forest, grassland, or shrubland. The floristic composition is the actual taxonomic diversity of the different structural types. For example, all continents except Antarctica have forests but the families, genera, and species in them are very different among the different geographic locations.
Description of plant diversity relies on the use of physiognomic and floristic classification systems. There are five floristic zones (see below) and within these zones there may be some or all of the six major structural or physiognomic vegetation types as defined by Dick-Peddie (1993). These major structural types are: Tundra, Forest, Woodland, Grassland, Scrubland, and Riparian.
Vegetation types are based on growth form and abiotic features of climate (primarily precipitation and temperature), geography (elevation and latitude), and geology (soils, slope, and aspect). In New Mexico the greatest influence on vegetation is precipitation (Dick-Peddie, 1993). The next most important influence is temperature and together with precipitation comprise the primary determinants of vegetation patterning. Other components of climate, geography, and geology such as wind, soil type, slope, aspect, elevation, latitude etc. are considered secondary determinants of vegetation patterns.
Cholla-This common cactus looks relatively harmless, but it is wise to enjoy this New Mexico flora from a comfortable distance. The chollo has fine, sharp needles reminiscent of porcupine quills, and victims often claim, like the porcupine, the cactus somehow manages to throw those pointed barbs into nearby flesh. Picture By: Mike Stauffer for the New Mexico Department of Tourism