Pinyon avifelinus

Juniperus avifelinus, common name Gryphon juniper, is a small epiphytic conifer that lives on top of saguaro cacti in America’s Southwest. It was named due to its peculiar life cycle. The seeds have feathery appendages that allow it to float far on a breeze, until it reaches a suitable cactus. Having landed, five hooks on the front side of the seed dig into the cactus’s leathery skin, rather like a cat’s claws ripping into a rug. One of the very few parasitic woody plants in the world, the tree’s roots burrow into the cactus and tap into the water and nutrients therein. It’s inch long needles are greyish green to a dull yellow-green. The seeds are small, no larger than half a centimeter. Specimens seems to vary between five and thirty centimeters tall and approximately a foot across. The tree was unknown to the world until May 2008, when Marissa Sarvis, a devotee of Edward Abbey, tripped across a downed saguaro. Little is know about the plant due to it’s extreme rarity and prickly habitat.

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