Posts Tagged ‘cactus’

Six-Word Saturday 5.21.22

Although green is my favorite color, I didn’t wear it today and I’m happy to report I didn’t get pinched, although I wouldn’t expect to in Aldi or Trader Joe’s. 🙂 We moved here from the Chicago area and today (yesterday as you read this) the river will be run green. We stayed far away from downtown on St. Patrick’s Day as being around huge crowds is bad enough but when alcohol is involved, no thanks. However, Guinness was my entry-level dark beer so I have a fond spot in my heart for it. We did have corned beef and potatoes for dinner sans cabbage because I don’t care for boiled cabbage. Salad and good bread filled in nicely and tomorrow will be even better when the leftover corned beef and potatoes become corned beef hash. So good and I think even better than the separate ingredients the first day.

But green isn’t just for St. Patrick’s, it’s the color of spring, which is often how I think of it having lived in the Midwest for almost my entire life. When my parents used to come from Arizona to visit us in Ohio, they always commented on all the trees and how green everything was. I always felt that was a bit like the relatives who saw you infrequently starting by declaring, “My, how you’ve grown!” What had they expected?

“I just need green. I need to wake up and see grass and squirrels. I don’t want to see skyscrapers.” – Andre Leon Talley

The green I miss is the spring green, the here’s-what-you’ve-been-waiting-for green, a green that at its most beautiful serves as a background to spring’s wildflowers…

…or blossoms higher in the spring air.

“Nature in her green, tranquil woods heals and soothes all afflictions.” – John Muir

In South Dakota near the Badlands, sometimes green is what draws your eyes.

“Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps the singing bird will come.” – Lois Lowry

In the desert, green is harder to find and better protected but much appreciated when seen.

“Every green natural place we save saves a fragment of our sanity and gives us a little more hope that we have a future.” – Wallace Stegner

And sometimes, well, it’s all about the green.

“leaves glow under
a haze of sunlight,
and hang
still on a windless
day”
― Bremer Acosta, Cosmos in a Tree

WQW #11: St. Patrick’s Day Green

Once we joined the Desert Botanical Garden, I figured we should take advantage of the reciprocal membership option, good at botanical gardens throughout the US. Tuscon’s Tohono Chul was on the list and as some of you know, we fell in love with its slice of Sonoran desert plant life.

The variegated plant in the front left is a century plant but don’t get too excited. As the Gardening Solutions website points out:

The plant’s common name is a bit misleading; while many people think it means these plants live for—or bloom after—100 years, it actually matures much faster. Century plants generally take between 8 and 30 years to flower.

Once the plant has reached maturity, a central stem grows up to 20 feet tall. Pale yellow or white blossoms appear atop this branched flower spire during summertime. Most century plants will die after they flower, although the spineless century plant (Agave attenuata) flowers multiple times a year.

Our rental house had one of these which blossomed last year. Eventually the tall, thick stem began to list and had to be cut down and put out for bulk pickup along with the rest of the dying plant. We were underwhelmed. Still looking for something to replace it.

I love Tohono Chul’s large amount of signage for their vast number of desert plants. “Red Spike Ice Plant” is a great name even though ice is unlikely to occur anywhere in its vicinity.

Fire sticks is a perfect name for this plant.

Although the century plant is a type of agave, this agave is probably more easily recognizable as such. There are over 200 types of agave. I must say that this one is pretty impressive. These leaves serve as catchalls for all sort of desert detritus or, every so often, rain. The edges have little sharp protrusions, making them look a bit like saws.

For me there’s nothing quite as attractive as a well-built stone wall but having a planter spot for a cactus elevates this one.

Thus endeth our walk for today. But don’t despair. There will be more.

FOTD 3.8.22

Tohono Chul featured cacti of all sorts but sometimes even a hardy cactus dies, sometimes leaving an intriguing looking skeleton such as this one.

SquareOdds 2.15.22

While visiting my parents once before we moved to Arizona, the moon was in just the right spot behind this cactus for me to play a bit with both.

for Life in Colour: white

Patti’s set us a challenge today, that of sharing photos the convey emotion. I don’t take lots of photos of people, but humans aren’t the only ones who express emotions. What emotions do you see?

Can’t resist a reprise of my W.C. Fields cactus. 🙂

© janet m. webb
© janet m. webb

Let’s take a closer look at a few of the cacti found in Saguaro National Park. One of the first places to get out and walk that we encountered was a paved loop giving great views of a variety of cacti, a number of which were in flower or had fruit. There’s quite a bit of room between many of the cacti, but be careful where you step and don’t back up without looking!

Here’s a lovely bunch of prickly pear cactus with fruit. Prickly pear jelly can be found in the Southwest and the fruit can be eaten but you have to be very careful to completely removed the outside so no spines of any size are left. I think I’ll stick with jelly!

When I started this post I didn’t realize that cholla, the type of cactus I’m showcasing next, used to be part of the same genus as prickly pear, despite what this information board says, but have now been separated because of some differences we wouldn’t notice, . However, the board does show how important each part of the desert flora and fauna are.

I also didn’t realize that there are boatload of species of opuntia, not a hundred, but a LOT! If you’re interested in identifying the flowers, this is (un)likely to help and made me laugh:

The flowers are typically large, axillary, solitary, bisexual, and epiperigynous, with a perianth consisting of distinct, spirally arranged tepals and a hypanthium.

If you do know what all those mean, do NOT tell us or I will ban you from the blog and flog you with a wet noodle or possibly o-puntia you across the desert for being a showoff!

(more…)

These small cactus were everywhere at Saguaro National Park. They might be small, but take notice of the multitudinous spines! Don’t mess with small. They have large, beautiful flowers and the bees, as you can see, loved them. The cactus, mammillaria grahamii or mammillaria microcarpa, has a rather unfortunate common name: Graham’s nipple cactus. I have no idea where that came from as the resemblance isn’t evident to me!! Even Madonna at her worst wasn’t as sharp as this.

Let’s go with its other common name: Arizona fishhook cactus. This is a rather specialized cactus found in a small area of west California, southwest and south Arizona, southwest New Mexico and a few small areas of far west Texas