Monday, March 1, 2010

Saguaro Cactus

The saguaro cactus is found in Arizona and in the Mexican state of Sonora. Despite its limited range, it seems to emblemize the deserts of the American southwest. I love Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in southern Arizona, where the saguaro are plentiful. One of my favorite camping memories was camping near a saguaro near Alamo Canyon with our young children. Below, Rachael and Sam and our tent, dwarfed by a giant saguaro.
Saguaro may live more than 150 years and it may take up to 75 years before they develop sidearms. So the large saguaro with multiple sidearms are quite old and mature.
The saguaro, above and below, were found near Estes Canyon in Organ Pipe.
Below, Sam and Andrew near some saguaro in Grass Canyon during a backpacking trip.
Andrew and Sam, near Alamo Canyon, with less mature saguaro in the background. Most of those visible are a pillar without arms. The few cactus with muliple shoots coming out from a base are organ pipe cactus, not saguaros.
The saguaro flower is the state flower of Arizona. They bloom at night in April and May. They have a ruby colored fruit that matures in late June, but I've never been there that late in the year to see them. Below, the tip of each saguaro is covered in flower buds, a few of which are open.
An unusual, crazy armed saguaro, each arm with flower buds on them.
The buds on the top conjure up the image of a mop-topped muppet. They go from being majestic to almost comical looking.
A closer look at a clump of blooming flowers, unusual to have so many blooming next to each other.
A head on look at the end of an arm, like a balding man with transplanted hair follicles.
The closeup of a bud, amidst the thorns.
This bud looks like it bloomed during the night and is now closing up for the day.
These pictures of flowers were taken at the end of May in 2009, the only time I've seen the saguaro in bloom.
The flowers attract bats, that feed on the nectar from the night-blooming flowers. These flowers were still open in the morning, but they close up later in the day.
Many animals use the saguaro for shelter. A flicker below, has a hole burrowed high up in this saguaro.
A view of this saguaro stump reveals the woody core inside.

This dead saguaro has decayed to the point where only the woody core remains.

A closeup of the woody core.

1 comment:

  1. That first picture of Rachael and Sam is one of my favorites. Fun times.