In the 1980’s we decided to look for a couple of acres to build a future home. We found four across the street from Saguaro National Park. We would own it over 12 years before we built on it. What a beautiful place to be each and every day. Looking east we see the Rincon Mountains surrounded by the Park, which was established as a monument in 1933. The concentration of saguaros have diminished over the years. In the 1950’s there was a 52 foot giant with 52 arms. Imagine having to hold that up each and every day? When Western movies show desert scenes with saguaros, chances are it was filmed in Arizona. Saguaros can be found only in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. On a cloudy, cool Sunday afternoon, we took a walk into the park.
The Arizona Daily Star had published an article with a picture of a leaning saguaro along the Mica Trail. We set off to find it. It’s just a short walk from the beginning of the trail head off the Broadway entrance. There is no time table for how long it can hang on. Love taking pictures of this beautiful cacti and how well they have adapted to the desert.
This guy appears to be playing hide and seek. We found you, tag you’re it. Many saguaros start off life with the protection of a “nurse” plant. The nurse plants provide protection from the burning sun and frost.
Who knows what caused this guy to lose his head years ago. It could have been a freeze or even a lightning hit. The plant adapted and decided to grow a new arm to compensate for it. Look how plump each plant is in the middle of April. We have had an amazing winter with a more than normal rainfall. There has been enough moisture to tide these guys over until the monsoon rains. Too many of past springs have found our cacti shriveled into nothing from a lack of moisture. Somehow most are adapted to survive.
The one on the right looks like it has been dancing in the wind. Look at those beautiful mountains too! It was a treat to have a cool, cloudy day. The heat of summer is only a few weeks away.
This one seems to have survived quite a few battles and is alive to tell about it. The appearance of the base of this saguaro could be a result of our profound drought from the spring of 1993 to 2003. We also came to see the flowers.
The flowers tend to grow on the tips of the arms. Some arms can support as many as 50 blooms. The saguaros are embedded into the Tohono O’odham culture. The O’odham based their calendar on the growing and producing cycle of the plants. The new year began with the harvesting of the bright red, juicy sweet fruit that will be produced once these flowers are pollinated.
The blooms are open in the evening for a reason. During the night the flowers are pollinated by the lesser long-nosed bat and the Mexican long-tongued bat. During the daytime the flowers are pollinated by bees and birds such as the white-winged dove. Here’s a bee coming in for a landing and some delicious pollen, coming soon to your Tucson’s farmers market as honey.
It takes a lot of trips to make a jar of honey. Look at all those plump blossoms waiting to open.
Up close and personal.
Saguaros are also home to many birds. Some choose to live inside the cactus and some decide to build a nest within their protective arms. We need to do a nest sighting trip soon.
Love these majestic creatures. Each has it’s own personality. There’s always something interesting that begs to have it’s picture taken. If you are visiting Tucson, please take the time to drive, hike or bike in Saguaro National Park East and West. Each are unique. There’s a wonderful film shown at the Visitor’s Center in the West unit. Make sure you stay to the very end, because you will see an ending that will take your breath away. If you live in Tucson, take advantage of our parks and spend a few hours visiting a couple of times a year. They change with the seasons. If you’re so inclined, email me your favorite saguaro picture firstname.lastname@example.org.