April 21, 2014

ARIZONA : FLOWERS COME OUT - Saguaro National Park

 Barrel cactus flowers

Barrel cacti are classified into the two genera Echinocactus and Ferocactus, both of which are found in the Southwest Desert of North America. Their pineapple-shaped fruits can be easily removed but are not recommended for consuming because they are fairly dry and bitter to the taste. Native Americans collected the fruit as emergency food during extreme drought conditions. The barrel cactus easily reaches over a meter in height at maturity, and have been known to reach 10 feet in some regions. Its ribs are numerous and pronounced, and the spines are long and can range in color from yellow to tan to red, depending on the age of the plant and the genera. Small yellow flowers appear at the top of the plant only after many years. It is considered easy to grow and relatively fast growing; and may also produce round offshoots.

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Cactus flowers are budding
The Flowers appear early May, mid August and September.

Flowering cholla

The plant has a soft appearance due to its solid mass of very formidable spines that completely cover the stems, leading to its sardonic nickname of "teddy bear".

The teddy-bear cholla is an erect plant, standing 1 to 5 ft (0.30 to 1.52 m) tall with a distinct trunk. The branches are at the top of the trunk and are nearly horizontal. Lower branches typically fall off, and the trunk darkens with age. The silvery-white spines, which are actually a form of leaf, almost completely obscure the stem with a fuzzy-looking, but impenetrable, defense. The spines are 1 in (2.5 cm) long and are covered with a detachable, paper-like sheath.

The yellow-green flowers of this cactus emerge at the tips of the stems in May and June, and the fruits that follow usually have no viable seed. Flowers are usually 1.375 in (3.49 cm) in length. The fruit is 0.75 in (1.9 cm) in diameter, tuberculate, and may or may not have spines. These cacti produce few seeds, as the plant usually reproduces from dropped stems. These stems are often carried for some distance by sticking to the hair of animals. Often small "forests" of these chollas form that are largely clones of one individual.

Like its cousin the jumping cholla, the stems of this cactus detach easily and the ground around a mature plant is often littered with scattered cholla balls and small plants starting where these balls have rooted. When a piece of this cholla sticks to an unsuspecting person, a good method to remove the cactus is with a hair comb. The spines are barbed, and hold on tightly. Desert pack rats such as the Desert Woodrat gather these balls around their burrows, creating a defense against predators.

The teddy-bear cholla is extremely combustible.

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Cactus flowers are budding
The Flowers appear April through June.

Saguaro flowers

The saguaro (/səˈwɑroʊ/; scientific name Carnegiea gigantea) is an arborescent (tree-like) cactus species in the monotypic genus Carnegiea, which can grow to be over 20 meters (~70 ft) tall. It is native to the Sonoran Desert in the U.S. state of Arizona, the Mexican state of Sonora, and the Whipple Mountains and Imperial County areas of California. The saguaro blossom is the State Wildflower of Arizona.

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Cactus flowers are budding
The Flowers appear April through June.

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