Saguaro In Bloom — Spring’s End
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Over the years I’ve written about several species that I consider to be symbols of the Sonoran Desert. These include certain invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals that are unique to our desert and that do not live elsewhere. However, nothing is more representative of the Sonoran Desert than the Saguaro Cactus. I am certain that when most non-Arizonans think about the Sonoran Desert their initial mental images are of Saguaros. These cacti are found here and nowhere else.
They are not only iconic in appearance but they are critical to the survival of numerous forms of life. Many species depend on Saguaros for food and shelter.
A mature Saguaro typically puts out a few dozen blooms over a period of several days, generally between late April and mid-May. Each bloom opens at night and lasts only into the following day. The flowers are creamy white with pale yellow centers and about two inches in diameter. Innumerable desert creatures visit Saguaro blooms, drinking the nectar and consuming the pollen. There are species of bats and moths that specialize in feeding on Saguaro blossoms at night. Honeybees find the flowers to be irresistible. Saguaro blooms attract several species of birds during daylight hours.
I know that spring is over when I see the Saguaros in bloom. Coincidental with these giant cacti blooming temperatures soar and we enter the hottest and driest period of the year, known locally as foresummer. For me, these flowers serve as kind of an announcement. Even if a Saguaro is blooming on a cool and pleasant day in mid-May, as was the case when I made these images, the reality is that a sudden change in the weather is imminent. As I write this post, just two weeks after I took these photos, I can look out my window and see our yard baking in 100 degree-plus weather.
Images made with a Canon 5Div, 100-400mm ISII zoom lens, aperture priority setting, ISO 400, f7.1 @ 1/2500.