Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Spring in the Desert, Part 6

Near the entrance to the Desert Botanical Garden is another Escobar sculpture. It reminds me of musical flowers — perhaps like the Silly Symphonies animated series from Disney in the 1920s and 1930s. Your imagination may be wilder.

But what is grander than the flowers produced by our native cacti? Here, for example, is a purple Prickly Pear. And did you spot the bee which just finished his nectar lunch?

What impresses me is not simply a single flower but the profusion of cactus flowers all over the garden. It is a great time of year to visit.

The varieties of Prickly Pear (this one green) vary in the types and colors of their flowers — but all beautiful.

The time window for reproduction is the desert is small so plants must offer many pollen-producing stamen and enticing pistils.

And the giants of the cactus world, the Saguaro, also have flowers — big white ones. According to Wikipedia, "The major pollinators are bats, primarily the lesser long-nosed bat, feeding on the nectar from the night-blooming flowers, which often remain open in the morning. There are a number of floral characteristics geared toward bat pollination: nocturnal opening of the flowers, nocturnal maturation of pollen, very rich nectar, position high above the ground, durable blooms that can withstand a bat's weight, and fragrance emitted at night. One additional piece of evidence is that the amino acids in the pollen appear to help sustain lactation in bats. The flowers remain open into the daylight hours and continue to produce nectar after sunrise. Doves and bees appear to be the primary daytime pollinators".

What Wikipedia neglected to mention is that the timing of the appearance of the Saguaro flowers coincides with the bat migration through this area.

Another variety of Prickly Pear cactus — this one with yellow flowers.

A closer look reveals that the outer petals actually have thorns too.

It took a while but I finally noticed I was being watched. I was too big for food so he was probably trying to avoid being eaten. No worries, mate.

One of the curious plants of the desert is Ocotillo (also the name of a favorite golf course). It does not have branches like most shrubs and small trees but a set of single stems with tiny leaves attached. When the rains subside and the dry time of year returns, the leaves all fall off. When the rains come again, even briefly, new leaves appear to continue the cycle.

Native Americans in this area often used Ocotillo stems for fencing. The stems would often take root to produce colorful hedges (when watered) with nasty thorns to keep out varmints looking to eat their crops.

Last for this week, but certainly not least, is this small cactus with big, brightly-colored flowers — which almost look artificial. But I assure you they are real.

To be continued.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com