One of the things we miss by leaving the desert in early April is that we are seldom around to see the cacti bloom. We’ve particularly wanted to see saguaro blossoms. This year we sorta got to see some.
Jeff — our good friend and this blog’s intrepid Quartzsite correspondent — just got a new camera and has been taking pics of a saguaro that’s about to bloom.
Since saguaro blossoms tend to appear only at the top of the cactus we wondered how Jeff managed to get such great shots. As you can tell from this pic, it wasn’t a problem. This poor old cactus has seen much better days
Having buds so low was an open invitation to rabbits and other desert critters that seldom get to knosh on such delicacies. Which, says Jeff , is exactly what happened. However, he was able to get some great shots of another cactus.
The peak period for blooms, according to one of my favourite reference books, A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert, is mid-May to mid-June. The blossoms open at night and stay open until mid-afternoon of the following day. They’re about 3″ long and according to the book “emit an aroma like that of an overripe melon.” Hey, Jeff, ya wanna get up close and personal with one and let us know?
The melon “perfume” attracts bats who are one of the saguaro’s main pollinators. In return the nectar they gather provides the carbs they need for flight. As they dig about for nectar they often get covered with pollen — which they end up eating when they groom themselves. A good deal, since the pollen provides them with much-needed protein. Bees and doves visit the blossoms during the day and are also important pollinators.