« 159 Yucca plant stand in the gypsum

159 Yucca plant stand in the gypsum

Sculpted by wind and rain, the desert supports very few plants including these yucca. Instead of sand, this is the soft-as-talc gypsum, normally a rare constituent of sand because it is water-soluble, except here at White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo, NM, where this gypsum dune field is the largest of its kind in the world. Unlike dunes made of quartz-based sand crystals, the gypsum does not readily convert the sun’s energy into heat, and thus can be walked upon safely with bare feet, even in the hottest summer months.

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