Friday, May 11, 2012

Saguaro Cactus Flower Bloom

Saguaro Cactus flower.
I know I have been posting a lot about cacti lately, but hey, cacti are some of the coolest plants around.  And one of the coolest cacti around is of course the Saguaro.   Currently this cactus icon of the Sonoran Desert is in full bloom and causing quite a commotion with desert life.  Being cacti are quite the stingy conservatives when it comes to water it is quite unusual to examine a cactus in bloom.  Cacti flowers are very liberal when it comes to water use for flowering.  Much of this water use goes towards producing nectar, which attracts all kinds of desert dwelling organisms.  Saguaros begin flowering at night time and attract Lesser Long-Nosed Bats which feed upon the nectar and transport pollen from one flower to the next.  Once daylight arrives, bees and doves feed on the nectar and pollinate the flowers until afternoon or so when the flowers shrivel-up.   Buzzing swarms of bees and other flying insects quite commonly surround Saguaro blooms in the morning.  These swarms often attract insect eating birds that actively dart around catching their dinner. The simple act of blooming supports several different levels of the food chain.  Once Saguaro blooming is finished up in the next couple of weeks though, this activity will cease and the desert will become quiet until the next, and even bigger annual Sonoran Desert event takes place.  This event is the ripening of the Saguaro fruit which takes place at the end of June.
Blooming Saguaro Cactus next to a blooming Ironwood Tree.

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