This weekend a friend of mine, my wife, my dog, and myself all journeyed out into the desert in search of a specific plant. Our search took us to a riparian habitat off of the San Pedro River. This river flows most of the year, and due to the large amounts of water is home to many large and beautiful Cotton Wood trees.
The plant we were looking for was Seep Willow. It’s actually not really a willow, but rather from the Sunflower family, but resembles one in appearance. It’s also called Water Wally, Mule Fat, and a number of other common names. What makes this plant interesting is that when rubbed against some wood, it starts on fire at a very low temperature. This is quite useful for starting friction fires by hand.
So we found one really straight, dead stick, and brought it home with us. We then spun it in our hands against a Sotol flower stem and voila, and ember.
Just goes to show you, if you know what your looking for you can find just about everything you need right in the desert.