A special thank you to all of the new and loyal readers of Arizona Oddities. 2012 has been an amazing year and we look forward to 2013. We believe we have a truly special publication and a very special audience. Here’s a look at our most popular posts of 2012.
Drum roll please…
- How to Keep Scorpions Away from Your Home – There are about 35 species of scorpions in Arizona, but only five or six in the Phoenix area, including our personal favorite, the giant hairy scorpion.
- Why Do People Paint Citrus Tree Trunks White – To celebrate, we asked an actual newcomer in the office if she knew why citrus trunks are painted white, and she said it was to repel insects. These comical newcomers.We were going to laugh at her until we remembered she is much higher up the food chain than us and holds what passes for our career in her elegant and well-manicured hands. So we didn’t laugh.
- What Kind of Plant is a Tumbleweed? – Tumbleweeds really are a specific plant, the mature form of the Russian thistle, Salsola iberica.We think of them as being a real symbol of the West: wide-open spaces and the Sons of the Pioneers and all that. The fact of the matter is tumbleweeds are immigrants from the steppes of Asia.
- How did Arizona Get its Name? – The name Arizona comes from the Papago “ali-shonak” meaning “small spring.” The name became popular following the discovery of rich lodes of silver “so pure you could cut it with a knife,” some 25 miles southwest of present-day Nogales in 1736.
- The Legend of Red Ghost – Most folks will tell you camels are not found in Arizona’s high country. Truth is, those adaptable beasts can thrive in just about any kind of terrain. The U.S. Army introduced camels to the Southwest back in the 1850s, using them as beasts of burden while surveying a road across northern Arizona. But, the Civil War interrupted the great camel experiment, and most of the homely critters were sold at auction.
- How did Phoenix Get its Name? – Arizona’s capital city might have been called “Salina,” “Stonewall,” or even “Pumpkinville,” had it not been for a spurious English “Lord” named Darrell Duppa. Duppa was a well-educated world traveler who, it was rumored, was given a substantial allowance by his wealthy English relatives to remain permanently at large.
- A Brief But Fascinating History of the Hohokam: The Valley’s First Residents – Most scientists believe the Hohokam arrived in Arizona from Mexico around 300 B.C. Apparently, they arrived with a strong culture intact and had an immediate influence on the area and the people already living here. In time their influence would be felt as far west as the Colorado River, to the east, New Mexico and north to the Flagstaff area.
- World’s First Wave Pool Returns to it’s Roots – Did you know the Valley is home to the world’s first wave pool? “Waikiki Beach” at Big Surf Waterpark in Tempe has welcomed desert beach bums for more than four decades. Today, it remains the third largest wave pool worldwide, containing some 2.5 million gallons of water.
- How to Grow a Mesquite Tree – Yes, it is true that mesquite is dispersed by animals eating the seedpods and depositing the seeds elsewhere. And it is true that such seeds germinate easily because they hit the ground with a big dollop of fertilizer.
- Why Don’t Palm Trees Blow Down in the Wind? – This is the deal: Palm trees are monocots as opposed to other trees, such as paloverdes or oaks, which are dicots. Kim Stone, a horticulturist at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Superior, went to some pains to explain the differences to me. He is a very patient man.