Yesterday I took my daughter to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum located in the outskirts of Tucson and I was in awe of the colorful cactus in bloom. It is more verdant than ever in Arizona given the winter’s heavy rainfall and snow in the mountains that has run down the hills into the valley bringing it to life. Spring has come early in the desert and the vibrant, illustrious blooms prove that life in the desert can be anything but dull.
Take a walk with me.
There is something magical about the mighty saguaros lacing the mountains and landscape of Tucson akin to trees in a forest of Northern Minnesota. These majestic cactus are everywhere and they are amazing. Some live to be in hundreds of years old and it can take up to a hundred years to grow an arm. In the spring time, the saguaros bloom on top with beautiful flowers which are known as the state wildflower of Arizona. In all my years of visiting Arizona, I have never seen a blooming saguaro before.
There are several kinds of cactus in the desert. The round barrel cactus, the prickly pear cactus, saguaros and the many species of cholla cactus that look like round pieces of sausage and some even jump at you if you get too near.
Cactus have an amazing ability to survive the high heat and drought of a desert. Cactus have an extensive, but shallow root system that enable them to absorb water just a half-inch or so below the surface. In the spring months of April through May, cactus are in full bloom and filled with color.
Cactus also have an important ecological benefit by storing water, fruit and flowers for the hungry and thirsty birds and animals of the desert. The prickly pear cactus is a favorite treat of the javelinas and also makes a delicious jelly that is sold in the market. Inside a prickly pear, there is a vast supply of water but getting it out without getting cut is tricky.
Even this desert primrose (not a cactus flower but can live in the desert) was beautifully in bloom. I couldn’t resist another photo of this innocent, delicate flower.
It is often a myth that the desert holds no life or color. Contrary, I find the desert filled with an astounding amount of color and life. It is a birders paradise and also offers a unique ecosystem that is quite extraordinary. Over the years, I’ve fallen in love with the peace and beauty of the desert. A place so different from my own.
If you go:
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is an amazing place to see all the flora and fauna of the desert. It is located about 12 miles outside of Tucson and requires at least 3 hours to see all the sights. To learn more, visit their website here. If you bring kids, be sure to pay $1 to buy the animal paw print stamp booklet. It is loads of fun!
I’ve been to that museum in Tucson and enjoyed walking through their desert gardens, even losing my hat and having it closely examined by a crowd of wild pigs. I, too, admire the silky cacti blossoms and have written several blog posts featuring them. They are truly beautiful and amazingly adaptive to the dry conditions they grow in.
Thanks so much for the comment! Love it! Can you send me the links to your blog posts on the cacti blossoms? I would love to read them!
Most of my Canyon de Chelly posts have cacti in them: https://beautyalongtheroad.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/canyon-memories-2-wild-cactus/ and a beautiful pink one here: https://beautyalongtheroad.wordpress.com/2013/06/14/weekly-photo-challenge-curves-in-canyon-de-chelly/
Thanks so much for sharing the links! Gorgeous! Where exactly is the Canyon de Chelly? How far of a drive from Phoenix? I need to check it out!
Canyon de Chelly is in NE Arizona, about 4 hrs from Albuquerque, maybe a bit less from Phoenix…
Thanks! I will have to keep it on my list and check it out.
What an amazing place.
Yes it really is quite amazing! I love the animals there too as they are all the animals native to the Sonoran desert. The mountain goats had just had a brand new baby so that was fun to see!
So beautiful Nicole. so much life in the desert in the spring.
Yes, it was gorgeous and all the birds too! They made me happy!
I’ve never seen so many different and colorful cactus flowers. Absolutely stunning. Thanks for taking us along on such a beautiful walk Nicole.
I love flowers and the cactus flowers are quite impressive. I loved being there with everything in bloom. Now I have to wait a few more weeks for spring flowers to start here in Minnesota.Can’t wait!
Sounds as though you live in a beautiful area Nicole. Enjoy.
Excellent set of photos! Thanks for taking me there. Bye.Kamila
Thank you Kamila!
Visiting my parents in January, I miss the flowering of the cacti. The flowers are so beautiful. Thanks for sharing these and brightening my Friday.
I am sure you love it just as I do Janet! They were so gorgeous. Now I’m back in MN. Spring is coming. It is very green but no flowers yet.
Daffodils are finally out and some sort of small, very blue flowers that blanket the ground but that I’ve only seen in passing so far. Grass is green, though, and buds are everywhere. Happy Friday and a wonderful weekend to you.
Stunning photography! I love how there’s so much vibrancy in life and color in a place that is seemingly bare.
Thank you Callie! That is what I love about the flowers. So brilliant in the desert sand. Thanks!
This has very little to do with your beautiful photos of cactus flowers, but I smiled because this place holds a great memory for me! I traveled the U.S. extensively with my daughter, who played USTA junior tennis for 8 years before college. We always looked for a little diversion from the stress of competition, and this place provided some during one tournament. We often had mishaps during our outings (the worst was accidentally driving into Mexico during one in El Paso, TX!); here, my daughter got her arm stuck in a sea otter exhibit and injured it right before her next match! Nevertheless, I have great memories of this beautiful walk in the desert!
Wow, that is pretty amazing Lexi. Your daughter must have been quite amazing with tennis. Does she still play? How cool that you went to the desert museum!
She played through college and still plays for fun! We loved that place; it was a great little distraction!
Such wondrous flowers, Nicole. Cacti really are magical plants. 🙂
Yes I love them Sylvia!
I visited in January, like Janet, and missed these stunning blooms. So beautiful.
I love Arizona Ruth! I’m so lucky to go so often!