A prickly friend

I find the Saguaro Cactus intriguing.   As a kid growing up in the Midwest, I thought this multi-armed cactus was a fabrication of cartoonists.  I remember watching cartoons like the Road Runner, Huckleberry Hound, and of course Bugs Bunny.  The background contained scenes of red rock, cactus, and the ever abundant tumbleweed….. all foreign to a young gal growing up in Illinois among cornfields.intricate patterns

Phoenix ArizonaEach saguaro cactus is unique.  The ribs and needles appear to form an intricate and complex pattern.  It took me weeks of living amongst these beauties before I was even able to pronounce the name saguaro correctly…. pronounced:  sah – wah – ro.

The saguaro is a large, tree-sized cactus which can grow as tall as 70 feet (20 meters).   They grace the landscape in all directions in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert.

Saguaros have a relatively long life span, averaging 150-175 years of age with some living as long as 200 years.   It can take 50 to Phoenix Arizona70 years for a saguaro to develop a side arm.

Saguaros are very slow growing and may only grow an inch or two its first eight years.  Whenever it rains, saguaros soak up the rainwater and the cactus’ ribs will visibly expand.  This might explain why the desert feels so alive after a rainfall.

Hubby and I have been hanging around Arizona’s Phoenix valley since the third week in February and have enjoyed watching the desert bloom.

One of the reasons we’ve prolonged our stay in Phoenix was for me to see the saguaro bloom.

The saguaros are late bloomers and most don’t start until sometime in May.  However, they seem to start a little earlier at the Desert Botanical Garden, which of course I found rather exciting.  Guess it doesn’t take much to entertain me these days.

Gila Woodpecker

the saguaro provides a home for a Gila Woodpecker.

With temperatures hovering in the nineties in Phoenix, Arizona, the saguaro are now starting to bloom in the wild.  Most of the other cacti and vegetation are no longer blooming, but I have the fondest memories of the desert in bloom just a few weeks ago.

intricate patterns

Cacti provide intricate and complex patterns

Phoenix Arizona

saguaro skeleton

the skeleton of a saguaro cactus

We’ll hang around Phoenix a few more days, then pack up and start our journey toward Colorado in search of cooler temperatures.

Phoenix Arizona

“bye, my beloved prickly friend”

This post is in participation with the WordPress photo challengeintricate.  The needles on a cactus provide a complex, detailed, elaborate, and intricate maze.  Fascinating plants that are particularly beautiful in the spring.

crested saguaro

the rare crested saguaro

Phoenix Arizona

A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert (Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum)
Joby GP1-A1EN Gorillapod Flexible Tripod (Grey)


101 thoughts on “A prickly friend

  1. I very much enjoyed your saguaro post, Ingrid. It is such an iconic symbol for Arizona, but I had no idea there were so many kinds. Your photographs, as always, are stunning. Especially like the hummingbird on the red flowers, and your hugging photos brought a smile. It’s not often we see anyone actually hugging a saguaro. 😀

    • Thank you Jet. If you ever get a chance, you and your partner would love visiting the Phoenix Botancial Garden in the spring. The various blooming cacti are fascinating beyond words. The contrast between the delicate blooms and spiky thorns is quite a sight…. not to mention the wonderful birds.

      • We visited AZ one May (near the Huachuca Mtns) for birding, and were so thrilled with our finds. And the cacti were in bloom then too! It is such a lovely place, I intend to return some time. Thanks so much Ingrid. 😀

  2. I was wondering if you had left. We have been busy going here, there and everywhere! The saguaro are just starting to bloom here in Anthem… I have not seen the crown yet… like I talked about.
    I am hoping you get to see one. If I see one I am texting you!!
    And this post was not a wiki post… I felt a lot of Ingrid! 🙂

  3. Fantastic photos, Ingrid. Thanks so much for sharing the saguaros in bloom. I don’t think we will ever get “up close and personal” with them during their blooming season. They are so beautiful.

    Safe travels.

    • Thanks Marsha. And agree…. they are beautiful. I snapped a few more shots today and we hit the road in the morning. I think in the next couple of weeks they’ll go really crazy blooming but it’s too hot for me to stick around much longer.

    • Thanks…. the saguaros are fascinating to begin with but seeing them with flowers is a unique sight. It’s been worth the extended stay in the warm/hot weather to see them bloom.

  4. I love the saguaro, too. They have such a magnificent presence. I’ve always wanted to see them in bloom so I’m happy to see your photos. Your crested saguaro is gorgeous!

    • Thank you Laurel. Seeing the saguaro topped with blooms is a special treat. I have a few more to visit and photograph before leaving town 🙂

  5. How wonderful to be there to see them bloom. I was in AZ for the first time last fall and have dreamt of being there in the spring now your photo’s and information have fueled that desire. Thank You!!!

    • I would highly recommend a spring visit to the desert. Mid March to early April is perfect and the wildflowers usually peak during that time frame. The desert looks beautiful and alive 🙂

  6. Thanks so much for taking me back to Arizona..I love those rare Crested Saguaros…and those Gila Woodpecker are some of my favs!!!

  7. You cannot help but be in awe of theses soldiers of the desert. How long they take to grow, the shelter they provide to birds and animals and their overall role to the landscape.

    Enjoy your time in Colorado, we are headed to Canada for even cooler weather and of course mosquitos!

    • Soldiers of the desert is a wonderful description. We’ll spend June and July in Colorado and then it’s off to IL and WI where I know we’ll encounter plenty of bugs, not to mention humidity…. yikes! I look forward to following your journey and job.

  8. First time I’ve ever seen a cactus-hugger! The Woodpecker doesn’t seem to mind the prickles either. The Saguaro certainly is very intricate and beautiful. Lovely shots, Ingrid. 🙂

    • It is getting pretty warm around here and difficult to hike. So I’m hoping to find a few more blooming saguaros in the next few days then hit the road 🙂

  9. Lovely to see them with flowers, we were there a few weeks ago when it wasn’t quite so hot, but no flowers 😦 and I guess with flowers, come birds. Great shots.

    • There’s an interesting relationship between the birds and the saguaro year round. But the flowers do seem to wait until it’s nice and hot. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  10. What great photos you captured Ingrid! I am thinking it is time to move north too. So Cal was getting quite warm when we took off, so Phx would definitely not be to my liking right now.

    • I’m sure you remember those years living in Phoenix year round. We have some final things to finish up on our son’s home and then we’ll be ready to hit the road. I think I’ve had my housing fix LOL… at least for awhile. I’m ready to travel again 🙂

      • I do remember living in Phoenix full-time but I was younger and more resilient. Also, I traveled for work a lot so I was able to escape the heat. I know what you mean about being ready to travel. I have been chomping at the bit for some time. Safe travels!

  11. 50-70 years to grow a arm… that is so special These photos are so beautiful! Is it already hot in AZ? We have had mild weather in San Antonio and Austin area. It dropped to 50F from 70s in the morning just a couple of days ago.

    • The saguaro are definitely special and intriguing plants that I’m fascinated by. Overnight temps aren’t dropping below 70 and days are getting up into the 90’s and hit 100 yesterday. So yes it’s getting pretty warm around here. We’re heading north soon. My daughter was in San Antonio a couple of weeks ago and has decided she’d like to move to TX. This from a gal I never thought would leave CO 🙂

      • Leaving CO, move to Texas, Really? That’s exactly what we did, only decades ago. 🙂 A year ago, our daughter moved back to Texas from Seattle due to her job. 🙂 Btw, 82 F highest today.

        • Oh, how funny. I’m sure you’re glad that daughter moved back to TX. 82 F? Sounds like TX is heating up as well 🙂

  12. Stunning shots! What a lovely post. I can’t believe how deadly and gentle they can look, in the same time. Very fascinating. Have a great weekend!

    • Thank you and deadly and gentle sums up the saguaro beautifully. Hopefully I’ll snap a few more saguaro blooming before we head out of town.

  13. Nice capture of the hummingbird. Next time you are near Tucson, check out the crested saguaro on the U of A campus (in the very oldest portion). It’s the most elaborate crest I’ve seen, and it appears to be very old. Always interesting.

    Nice post. Great photos, as always.

    • Thanks Judy. I’ll be sure and check out that saguaro at U of A next time through Tucson. The saguaros are such a majestic plant that I’ve come to really enjoy seeing.

  14. Fabulous pics! I especially love the bird drinking nectar from the cactus flowers. I’m fond of cacti but probably won’t hug one any time soon. 🙂

  15. Gorgeous pictures! I am currently visiting my new grandson in Phoenix and I am enjoying the beautiful springtime blooms! The Desert Botanical Garden is amazing! Even though I am missing the cherry blossoms in New Jersey, I am considering coming back next year at the same time.

    • Oh how exciting – a new grandson, congratulations. I would encourage you to return late March/early April when most of the flowers our at peak. The Desert Botanical Garden was beautiful when I visited at the end of March and again the second week in April.

  16. Ingrid you taught me a lot in this post and I am especially grateful for the pronunciation lesson. Let’s hope I can remember that. I can see why you would want to stay for the spring flowers. A gorgeous collection of photos. I am afraid I am running out of adjectives to describe these lovely images of yours Ingrid!

    • I actually deleted a whole paragraph of info on the saguaro as I started sounding more like a wikipedia post than a ‘me’ post LOL…. edit, re-edit! They are fascinating plants and I’m on the hunt for one loaded with blooms to share with you all before we leave Phoenix. Thank you for the lovely comment 🙂

      • Ingrid I know what you mean. I did a major re-work on the Statue of Liberty post because it didn’t have enough ‘me’ in it. It’s finding the balance isn’t it?

        • Yep… I know I don’t always have time to read all kinds of stats and can always Google or use a hyperlink if I’m interested in more info. So I try to write as if I’m writing for me. Somewhere along the line I hope to find that balance.

  17. Love Saguaro too! I see you are a Saguaro hugger! Nice commentary too! Nice pic on the cactus wren as well. Nice pics as always! Here is a poem I wrote…enjoy!

    saguaro people standstill
    propping up the blue sky
    scents of desert blooms
    fill their crisp, clean air
    pure water slowly soaks
    through spines and skin
    their sidearms stretch, bulge and bend
    uniquely with a simple sustenance sustaining
    their mission to just stand tall

    the king canyon chief speaks now
    “my people live in this desert
    my ancestors were born here
    they came from the dirt
    they returned to the earth
    now they live in each of us
    one family
    people and Earth
    part of us all”

    the chief’s voice resonates
    repeats day after day after day
    never tires hour by hour
    in the home
    where all visitors are welcome
    to meet and walk with the tallest tribe
    —the saguaro people

    • Well aren’t you the poet! Thank you. I am indeed a saguaro hugger (with the help of a little angle trickery). Those needles sure are sharp. In my silliness I did get a tad too close 😉

    • There’s a saguaro at an intersection near our son’s house that is loaded with soon to be blooms that I’ll photograph Monday or Tuesday. So ready to hit the road 🙂

  18. So glad you were around long enough to see some of the saguaro bloom. Very cool! It’s too bad they have to have all that heat to get them blooming. Of course, I love your photo challenge crested saguaro:)

    • I thought of you Pam as I posted the crested photo. And yes, a pity they wait till May to bloom but they do love the heat…. me, not so much. A few more photos and we’ll hit the road.

  19. Wow – it was not before I saw the picture of the saguaro (pronounced with no ‘g’) and you that I realised the size. They are like desert trees. Love all the facts you have presented, I had no idea they could be so old! And very funny that the woodpeckers make use of them:) And off course, their flowers are beautiful as well, though the size of the cactus amazes me more:)

    • The saguaro is fascinating and I had fun doing the research on them. Amazing that it takes so long before an arm starts to grow. You should visit the desert sometime 🙂

      • I definitely hope I get the chance for a desert visit! I also only know this landscape from the Road Runner:)

  20. Very nice shots of the cactus. I’m enjoying watching them bloom right now too. We’ll be in Surprise for a few more days before we head back to Northern CA. We won’t be in UT/CO until late summer/fall. I’ve enjoyed our extended desert time.

    • We’re getting ready to start our trek north soon ourselves. Sounds like we’re both staying in the northwest end of the valley. Too bad I didn’t realize this soon, could’ve met for drinks. Safe travels 🙂

    • It’s really exciting to see the saguaro bloom, but it’s pretty warm around here now. It’s a challenge to get in any exercise with the heat. Colorado here we come 🙂

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