The Natural Gardens at the Springs Preserve can be found along 3.6 miles of trails that meander through 110 acres of native habitats and archaeological sites, all representing the "birthplace of Las Vegas"—the site of the Las Vegas Springs. These springs once bubbled to the surface and supplied the valley with its main water source. Spanish explorers named the valley "Las Vegas" (meaning "the meadows") because of the springs and the greenery surrounding the area.
Found along washes and in riparian areas, a Mesquite Bosque is perfectly at home in the Springs Preserve's Natural Gardens.
The main plant species in our Mesquite Bosque are honey mesquite and catclaw acacia. Other plant species typical to Mesquite Bosques include screwbean mesquite, quailbush, desert willow, seepwillow, and wolfberry. Common grasses include Great Basin wildrye, saltgrass, and alkali sacaton.
The Mesquite Bosque is important for Mojave wildlife diversity. The sandy soil is critical to the survival of the desert pocket mouse. Lizards, birds, tortoise and fox all use Mesquite Bosques for nesting, burrowing, feeding or protection. The Bosques are extremely critical in summer months when they're often the only green vegetation left on the Mojave landscape.
The Las Vegas Bear Poppy (Arctomecon californica) has a long history with the Springs Preserve. In an 1844 journal entry, John C. Fremont describes collecting it along the banks of the creek at Las Vegas Springs. We can't be certain that this collection was made on the site that the Preserve now occupies, but it seems likely.
Currently, fewer than 100 Las Vegas Bear Poppy populations are known. Three populations of the endangered plant exist in the Natural Gardens at the Springs Preserve, but because the plants are highly dependent on seasonal precipitation, they are rarely seen.
The Springs Preserve has conducted several germination trials on the Las Vegas Bear Poppy, all with negative results. We will continue our efforts to unlock the mysteries of growing this fascinating and beautiful plant.
The Springs Preserve's Cienega (desert wetland) was constructed in an existing storm water detention basin. It consists of a stream channel lined with riparian vegetation flowing through a series of habitat ponds.
Nearly 100 species of plant are found in the Cienega. The most prominent of these are cottonwoods, willows, mesquites, reeds and sedges. The Mesquite Bosque and meadow are located within the Cienega.
The Cienega is a hotspot for wildlife, providing breeding and nesting grounds for the 149 species of birds that visit the Preserve as well as many species of reptiles, amphibians, fish and small mammals.
Still a functioning storm water detention basin, the water level in the Cienega fluctuates dramatically throughout the year, based on rainfall.
Learn more about our growing Mojave Cactus and Succulent Collection.Video »
See the beauty of the Mojave Desert in our Gardens.Photos »
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