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Desert Plants of Arizona, 2006

Have you ever heard the adage dry years make cactus etc. bloom more than wet ones? In a wet year you don’t see as many blooms on cactus. Wild flowers on the other hand are abundant in wet years.

Well as wet as 2005 was, and the mind numbing abundance of wildflowers we saw, 2006 is the year of the drought! 143 official days according to the Phoenix folks.

My, have you been out to see the Saguaros in bloom?

Saguaro Cactus
Saguaro Cactus

On a drive down Lake Pleasant Rd on Friday May 19th, the plants were in full bloom. They have just now bloomed in the Congress area, and will soon bloom at the higher elevations such as Bagdad. We plan on driving out there this week.

Saturday the 20th we drove down Vulture Mine Road by the trail head to check the plants out at that elevation. They were fabulous there too. We went back to the same area later that afternoon to take some pics at sunset.

Palo Verde

On the way there, we had a additional reward of seeing a covey of baby Gambel’s Quail with Mom and Dad leading the way, crossing the road by the Los Cab Country Club going out to the desert brush for dinner.

Quail Babies

Sunday morning we were on the road by 6 am back to Lake Pleasant to take additional photos. We didn’t have our ladder with us on the first trip and wanted to get some closer pics. Terry, my husband a real trooper, climbed his trusty ladder to take the incredible shots of the Saguaro’s.

Saguaro Cactus

You may wonder why we went out so early. The reason is, these flowers generally only open at night and close pretty soon after the sun starts to beat on them. Now if you have a cloudy day with rain, like we had on May 22nd, they may stay open the entire day, and they did.

Bats and other night creatures feed on the Saguaro blossoms and spread the pollen around. Many birds make their homes in these beautiful plants. Arizona’s State Flower is the Saguaro.

One of the things my friends and family have talked about this year is really never seeing this many blooms on the Saguaro’s and as far down on the arms and bodies. Generally they are on the tops, kind of like a crew cut. This year they have been down as far as two or more feet from the tips of the arms as well as being en masse. There must have been two hundred blooms on one of the Saguaro’s we saw.

Cholla’s were blooming also on this trip. Beautiful delicate yellow flowers with green clusters inside. Must be yummy since the ants were in there too.

Cholla Blooms

Along with the Cacti blooming were gorgeous stands of Ironwoods, Palo Verdes, White Thorn, Mesquit and Desert Willows. I have never seen that many Ironwoods blooming at once. All shades of light pink to a deep mauve. The blooms were like tiny orchids.

Ironwood Trees
Ironwood Trees

Glad to share with you some of Arizona’s beautiful deserts High and Low, Up Close and Personal.

(1) Read about Saguaro’s here: http://www.desertusa.com/july96/du_saguaro.html
(2) Hwy 74 by Mile Post 3 Saguaro with wonderful hanging arm
Mile post 12 -16 was the best viewing for Ironwoods, Palo Verde’s and Saguaro’s
(3) Vulture Mine Road from South of Los Caballeros to the Vulture Mine Trail Head. Lots of Nice Saugaro’s, Cholla’s, and other desert plants you can get close to.
Some additional links for you to look at.
(4) Tons of information on Desert Habitat, Wildlife, etc: http://www.desertusa.com

Last 5 posts by Jean Warren

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