Thursday, May 1, 2008
We traveled recently to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and Saguaro National Park to get cactus flower photos for our website, www.cactusphotographics.com. It was to be an early Spring (at least compared to our northern town of Jerome, AZ) when the desert wildflowers were in bloom and, hopefully, cactus flowers, as well.
Aside from the constant helicopter activity of the U.S. Border Patrol at Organ Pipe, our only minor ignorance was the discovery that cactus flowers bloom at different times and that the Hedgehog Cactus and Ocotillo flowers were the only cactus flowers out.
A helpful volunteer at Saguaro National Park explained to us that cacti such as Barrel Cactus set blossoms for the summer monsoons, blooming in August, while others such as Prickly Pear Cactus, set blooms for the winter rains and bloom in mid- to late April. Water in the soil, she explained, dissolves the seed coat and allows germination.
Fortunately, wildflowers such as the Mexican Goldpoppy had made their spectacular appearance and were joined by Brittle Bush along the roadside, valleys and slopes. We had hoped, however, for prickly pear and barrel cactus blooms at Organ Pipe but it didn't happen until we traveled to Saguaro National Park a couple of weeks later and still later to the Superstition Wilderness Area adjacent to Apache Junction.
Some results of this trip can be seen at www.cactusphotographics.com
While we humans jump on a couch, bed, or floor to reproduce, the less agile flora depend on water, and very mobile insects, specialized bees, bats, and butterflies, adapting to the environment and coordinating reproduction to the most opportune time.