Archive for Flowers

Saguaro Cactus Flowers and Gila Woodpeckers

Saguaro Flowers Gila Woodpecker Browsing Flowers for Nectar
Mama Emerging Mama Aloft

Today was our grocery shopping day and, as usual, we stopped at the post office box to pick up the mail. While Bob was in getting the mail, I noticed that a large saguaro cactus across the parking lot had open flowers, some of the first of the season. When we were both back in the truck, we drove across the lot so I could get some photos of the beautiful open flowers on the cactus.

As we got close, we saw a Gila Woodpecker perched by the bunch of flowers on one arm of the cactus. I began snapping shots of the male bird as he browsed the flowers. Shortly after that, the woodpecker flew up the side of the cactus and perched there until the female woodpecker came out of the hole in the side of the saguaro. I was fortunate to get the shots above as the birds did their thing.

Wikipedia has this about the Gila Woodpecker:

The Gila woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis) is a medium-sized woodpecker of the desert regions of the southwestern United States and western Mexico. In the U.S., they range through southeastern California, southern Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico.

They build nests in holes made in saguaro cacti or mesquite trees. Cavities excavated by these woodpeckers in saguaro cacti (known as a “boot”) are later used by a variety of other species, including the elf owl. There, they typically lay 3–4 white eggs, although as many as 6 or 7 have been noted. 2–3 broods are laid a year. Both sexes incubate and feed eggs.

Click on any image to enlarge.

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First 2019 Argentine Giant Flowers

Argentine Giant Flowers

After being in the ground out front for over seven years, this cactus is finally showing signs of being as prolific as some of the other Argentine Giants in town. These three flowers opened late this afternoon. There are numerous more flower buds on the cactus that should also be opening soon.

There are also buds near the bottom of the cactus that will be new cactus limbs, not flowers. There is plenty of room for the cactus to expand where it sits, so we’re glad to see it starting to take off. This cactus, native to Argentina, has an unusual growth habit for a cactus. It does not get any taller than about two to three feet at maturity and has sprawling limbs that grow just as wide as the main plant.

More about Echinopsis Candicans:

Echinopsis candicans is a species of cactus from northern and western Argentina (Monte Desert). It has large fragrant white flowers that open at night.

The cactus has a shrubby growth habit, with individual stems up to 60 cm (24 in) tall. The plant as a whole can be as much as 3 m (10 ft) across. The stems are light green, with a diameter of up to 14 cm (5.5 in) and have 9–11 low ribs. The large white areoles are spaced at 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in) and produce brownish yellow spines, the central spines being up to 10 cm (3.9 in) long, the radial spines only up to 4 cm (1.6 in).

Click on the image to enlarge.

UPDATE April 17, 2019: As mentioned in the post above, the cactus is showing a great amount of activity and growth. There are over a dozen new flower buds that look as if they will be coming out soon and all at once.

Coming soon

UPDATE April 23, 2019: Almost all of the rest of the flower buds on the cactus opened this afternoon. It’s like a bridal bouquet with a dozen open flowers.

Bouquet

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A Serious Pollinator

A Serious Pollinator

Now that the cactus flowers have started to open here at the homestead, the bees are out in force. I took this shot of a honey bee with its head, thorax and wings buried in the stamens of a hedgehog flower out front. The bee was burrowing down to gather nectar at the base of the stigma, I guess. Click on the image to enlarge.

Damsel and I have been out in the yard over the past couple of days taking photos of the recently opened flowers on both the beavertail cacti (opuntia basilaris) and hedgehog cacti (echinocereus engelmanii). There are flower buds forming on other cacti in the area and we will look forward to getting more images of those when opening.

The weather is quite pleasant this afternoon with light breezes and 93° temperature. The forecast is for more of the same tomorrow and then cooler at the end of the week with a 20 percent chance of precipitation. Gotta love the Arizona springtime weather!

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Purple Haze Lavender Rose

Purple Haze Lavender Rose

Yesterday was the last day that these beautiful roses were on display in the vase on the sofa table in the great room. We bought these a week ago and they lasted until yesterday in the vase. I managed to get this photo of one of the prettiest of them before they wilted.

I read that these flowers originate in Ecuador. From Magnaflor:

Purple Haze

The Purple Haze rose is a wonderful pale lavender bloom with creamy undertones and rosy edges. Lavender symbolizes love at first sight and will elicit feelings of spirituality.

Ecuadorian roses have an advantage due to the growing conditions; they get natural light the whole year, due to the country’s location by the equator. Artificial illumination is not necessary in Ecuador. Most farms are at an altitude of between 2800 and 3000 meters above sea level. With farms being closer to the sun roses produce the largest blooms and longest stems.

I replaced the roses today with Spider Mums in yellow and Violet. Maybe a photo of those later. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Devil’s Tongue Cactus Flower

Devil’s Tongue

Our Devil’s Tongue cactus had its first open flower today. Flowers open during the Second Spring Arizona pseudo-season. I snapped this in the rock and cactus garden west of the house this morning. Several bees were busily competing for the nectar. One of them is visible in the photo.

Ferocactus latispinus is the binomial nomenclature for what is commonly called the Devil’s Tongue cactus. Wikipedia offers the following information about this cactus:

Ferocactus latispinus is a species of barrel cactus native to Mexico. It grows as a single globular light green cactus reaching the dimensions of 30 cm (12 in) in height and 40 cm (16 in) across, with 21 acute ribs. Its spines range from reddish to white in color and are flattened and reach 4 or 5 cm long. Flowering is in late autumn or early winter. The funnel-shaped flowers are purplish or yellowish and reach 4 cm long, and are followed by oval-shaped scaled fruit which reach 2.5 cm (1 in) long.

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Cactus Flowers

Fishhook Cactus Flowers

Bishop’s Cap Flowers

During the spring and summer her in the desert, flowers opening on the various cacti keep us happy and my camera busy. I took these photos today of a little fishhook cactus with three flowers and my Bishop’s Cap with a bunch of open flowers. I didn’t bother to count them.

We continue to have our summer monsoons this week and the humidity really high. We can only stay outside for a limited time before retreating to the comfort of the cooler and drier air in our house.

Click on either image to enlarge.

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Cherry Red Flowers

Cherry Red Flowers

Not as impressive as the 21 open flowers from May, but still quite stunning. The three flowers on our “Cherry RedTrichocereus Grandiflorus cactus opened up this morning as expected and they became even more vividly colorful in the midday sun.

The cactus still shows a few more buds that we hope will be opening later this summer. Click on the image to enlarge.

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