desert of baja california

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Mexico’s El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve in Sonora gets UNESCO World Heritage status

Mexico’s latest UNESCO World Heritage Site is the El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve in Sonora, added to the UNESCO list in June 2013. Mexico now has 32 World Heritage Sites. The El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve is part of the Sonoran desert, which extends from Sonora into the northern part of Baja California. The reserve covers 714,566 hectares with an additional 354,871 hectares of buffer zone. It is a relatively undisturbed portion of the Sonoran desert, and offers visitors a dramatic combination of two very distinct landscape types: volcanic landscapes (El Pinacate) and sand dunes (Gran Desierto de Altar).

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Stenocereus eruca is in the family Cactaceae. Commonly known as creeping devil cactus, it is native to the deserts of Baja California. This species exhibits a peculiar growth habit, growing sideways along the sand instead of columnar like other cacti. The creeping devil cactus produces roots on the side touching the ground as the tip of the cactus continues to grow. Over time, this cactus produces the effect of walking along the desert sand.