Jekyll Island Beach 2012

Jekyll Island Beach 2012
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

S is for SAGUARO


The Rogue Speaks:

Our letter for Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday is "S," and here is my offering:

The saguaro(pronounced suh-WAR-oh), the largest cactus in the United States, is found exclusively in the Sonoran Desert. I am lucky to live in the Sonoran Desert, so I see these cacti every day! They are really huge! They can grow as high as 60 feet, and if we have a good monsoon season, they can weigh between 3200-4800 pounds! The saguaro has a taproot that goes down around two feet into the soil, but the other roots are only 4 to 6 inches deep and go out as far from the plant as it is tall.

Saguaros grow very slowly, and a ten-year-old may only be a couple of inches tall! The saguaro begins to grow "arms" when it is about 40 to 50 years old. I love those arms! Whenever we have been away for a while and I see the first one on the way home, I feel like those arms are greeting me. "Come over here so I can give you a big hug," it seems to say. Unfortunately, the long, sharp thorns can be very painful.

Saguaros can be very whimsical, and lend their photos to some interesting captioning.

I have a small collection of saguaro photos that always make me smile!

Little baby saguaros grow in the shade of a shrub or small tree, called a "nurse tree" because they shelter the baby from the hot sun. Since the saguaro can live to be 200 years old, by the time they reach maturity, the "nurse" is long gone.

The saguaro bloom is the Arizona state flower. The flowers grow and bloom on the tips of the saguaro's trunk or arms in May and June. The blossoms are very fragrant. They draw bees and bats who pollinate the flowers which then turn into red, seeded fruit that the birds and animals love.


The saguaro also houses the Gila woodpecker. This fellow hollows out holes in the trunk and makes its nest. The hollowed out portion dries and scars on the inside, forming what is called a "boot."

A friend found this boot (shown above) while hiking in the desert and brought it home to me. If you look closely at my painting at the beginning of this post, you can see the holes that the woodpeckers have made in the saguaro so they can build their nests.

Eventually the giants of the Sonoran Desert die, either from old age, severe draught, or damage by vandals. After they are gone, the sturdy ribs remain, and are used to build fences, or ramadas, or even furniture. In the picture below, you can see two boots still attached.



I hope you have enjoyed this post about our beloved saguaros. Next week our letter is T. Hmmm--wonder what I will come up with for that letter??

37 comments:

Donnie said...

That was a really cute post. Loved your cactus photos...funny...

La said...

What a wonderful and interesting post. I learned a lot. T is for Tumbleweed?

Jo said...

oh Judie, I loved this post! I can't believe how old these plants must be ... i didnt realize that they grew so slowly ... and they each have distinct personalities!!! very cool post!

Cheryl said...

I love saguaro! When we were out in AZ this fall we had planned a day around going into the desert so I could ooo and ahhh and take pictures. Sprained my ankle really badly the day before so we didn't go. This kinda makes up for that.

Love that painting. Sheer awesome.

JDaniel4's Mom said...

These look so dramatic when you come upon them in the desert.

Mary said...

I had no idea they were so long lived or grew so tall! Loved your captioned photos :-)

JoAnn said...

I love these pictures. My grandparents were snowbirds for many years and wintered in the Sonora. My grandmother is very remarkable in that she could find beauty in any setting. She especially loved the Saguaro's in bloom and would take a lot of pictures every year and send them to us in her letters. Thank you for sharing!

JoAnn @ Stitches and Thyme

Pondside said...

They look like any child's idea of a real cactus - certainly to someone like me, who hasn't ever seen a real cactus, this is what I think they must look like.
I loved the idea of you being welcomed home by a prickly cactus!

Karen S. said...

Oh these are just great photos, you are so lucky to have these right at a moment's sight if you want! I love the desert, and all the beauty they hold just waiting to be enjoyed...except for those ants that bite really hard....not good, especially when after I got bit that same foot landed in one of those barrel tooth-pick cactus! OUCH!

Cindy Adkins said...

Oh, what a beautiful post--and what a fabulous place you live in to work on your art...awesome! I remember reading about F.L. Wright's home and how he concentrated on making views possible for the people in the home to see the saguaros...That's the first time I heard about these cacti...so gorgeous!

★Mumsy★ said...

I do enjoy this post! The blooms from the saguaro are so beautiful.

myorii said...

Great post! For me, when I think of cactus, I immediately imagine the Saguaro. I think they are very neat to look at and quite majestic in a way. Those photos with the captions crack me up too!

By the way, are Saguaro's hollow on the inside? I'm never quite clear on what is on the inside of cacti's and have always been curious about it. I've heard that they contain water but then again, my sources are a little unreliable.

Judie said...

The flesh of the Saguaro is surrounded by ribs that keep it upright. it is very dense and contains veins that hold the water and distribute it to the plant cells.

The Guy's Perspective said...

It's amazing how diverse our country is. Not just people but plants, trees, and animals.
The New England landscape is beautiful, but what I wouldn't give to see a cactus right now!

FYI: love to get your take on the Scott Brown issue we discussed today.

askcherlock said...

Judie, Arizona is one of the most beautiful states I have ever visited. Thee saguaros are uniquely lovely, aren't they? Though I have only been to Arizona once, I have convinced Rich that it should be on our "must visit" list. Great post, my sister!

Sarah said...

I saw one with an arm that definitely did not need viagra when I was down there. I dubbed it "He went that way!" picture. Although the park worker told us part of them are dying from too much water,strangely.

Sarah said...

BTW, love that painting!

Tammy said...

Beautiful painting, and I enjoyed your informative post!

THE SNEE said...

Well thanks for that little tasty treat on the saguaro cactus Judie. I have a special place in my heart for the desert since my grandparents lived for years in the New Mexico desert near a Navajo reservation. I used to walk with my Grandpa out in the desert. One day I saw lovely yellow cacti flowers which my Grandpa told me not to touch. Impetuous me, chose to ignore him, and I picked a handful. Little did I know that these appealing little blossoms would quickly disintegrate into small thorny painful prickles that embedded themselves into my palm. Many tweezer hours later...I will always remember to appreciate cacti blooms at a distance!

Judie said...

One year, when Rod's mum was visiting and getting a little vacant sometimes, I told her she could not go outside by herself, and I told her NOT to touch any cactus because the thorns have barbs on the end that makes them tough to get out.
Of course, she wandered off into the back yard and touched a cactus and came in looking at her finger because it hurt. DON'T TOUCH THE CACTUS!!

bluzdude said...

Those cacti are way cool. Good advice to avoid touching them. I know I always keep clear of an a big waving prick.

Stef said...

I remember when we lived in AZ wondering why people would put them in their front yards. To me, they are more of a keep-in-the-wild plant, if you ask me. But they are beautiful and pretty amazing if you ask me.

Lourie said...

I don't think I will ever look at a cactus the same again. Especially not those! Wow.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I visited Saguaros National Park once and took so many photo of all the magnificent cacti.

I enjoyed "Don't Fence Me In"!

Gattina said...

Very interesting I didn't know all that, although I have seen them in Arizona. I am becoming more and more intelligent with blogging and soon will be a walking Wikipedia !

Su-sieee! Mac said...

10 years old and only 2 inches tall. Wow! This cactus has always fascinated me. One of the things I look for whenever I have the opportunity to drive through the Southwest. I like how your paintings make me forget they're on a canvas.

Theresa said...

Awesome Post Judie! Especially love "Winter Sentinel"! Looks like I could step right into it and hike along the desert and take in that gorgeous sky... Is that a saguaro featured in your blog header too?

BEAR's Mom said...

Judie Judie Judie
you are such an
interesting human
i loved this post
so informative
but true to form
you injected your
great sense of humor
i.e. the viagra cactus
and touchdown!!!
have a wonderful weekend
BEAR HUGS
~victoria~

Jenny said...

Judie, my husband would love this picture. He has a fascination with saguaro's.

I say, give me a lilac bush anyday! No thorns and I can bring the blossoms inside!

This was a wonderful stop! You cracked me up, as always, and enchanted me with your words and graphics!

You are superb!

Thanks for linking to Alphabe-Thursday's letter "S".

A+

marisworld said...

SEDONA! That's where we were on our US tour and we were taken by a local on a jeep high up. We were fascinated with the seguaro's and yes they are 'sweet' to look at. We were told many people steal them to plant back at their own places often destroying the plants in the process.
Great post!

mrs. c said...

Thank you for sharing about the mighty saguaro cactus. I visited Az. several years ago and was blown away with them. I also remember that there was a cactus hospital for all the saguaros that were moved while road repairs were being completed. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Honey at 2805 said...

Enjoyed your post on the saguaros, and especially enjoyed the pictures of their "antics". Your captions are perfet.

Anna said...

Wow Judie,
What an interesting post! I have seen these cati depicted in cowboy cartoons and movies set in the west without knowing what they are called or how they live!
Thank you for such a well-written, informative and get funny post with great photos and a stunning painting.
I have no idea if I will ever get to travel to your part of the US. I've never been there, but thanks to you I know a little more about these incredible plants and their important place in the ecosystem! (I love the shots of the woodpecker and their 'boot'-nests. The photos with captons are halarious!) They grow so slowing, they are a little like giant turtles that outlive us!

Thank you for visiting my S-post and telling me about the Wallander-series. I don't think I've seen it!
Best wishes and hugs,
Anna
For the benefit of other readers:

Anna's AT-S, S is for Swedish Summer in books

nothingprofound said...

In the seven years I lived in Tucson I never got over my fascination with the saguaro. I always thought of them as sentinels guarding the city. Our own personal army protecting the city and desert below. At night, when the city slept, I used to imagine them uprooting, coming to life, walking around on the hilltops conversing, sharing stories and drinking wine together. I've written three poems in my life, and one of them was about the saguaro. I think it was my best.

paige said...

Your posts are always my favorites from AlphabeThursdays. I'm growing some baby saguaros from AZ. :)

Barbara Rosenzweig said...

Thanks for stopping by, too!
Barb

Theresa said...

J - I hope you don't mind if I feature your piece on my blog tomorrow...?