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More Summer Cactus Flowers

Summer Cactus Flowers

Several of the local cacti were in bloom today. Upper left: Argentine Giant Flower, lower Left: Cherry Red Flower with Pollinator and right: Queen of the Night Flowers at just after midnight this morning. The QOTN flowers are on a rescued cactus stalk in a pot in the courtyard.

We have been having intermittent rain and thundershowers and it was iffy as to whether we were going to be able to get any photos last night or this morning before the flowers all faded away as cactus flowers usually do. However, the weather cooperated and we got these photos this morning. Click on the collage to enlarge.

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Summer Cherry Red Cactus Flowers

Three New Flowers

One of our transplanted Cherry Red (Trichocereus Grandiflorus) cacti has three new flowers today. These are the second to bloom on our cherry reds, the first having opened in late April.

These three flowers opened today on the “mother” cactus from which we separated several “pups” last October. A couple of the pups are also showing signs of flowers coming soon. Click on the image to enlarge.

Elsewhere in the xeriscape are flowers almost ready to open: two queen of the night flowers and a couple of Argentine giant buds will likely be open soon. Pictures to come for those as well.

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QOTN Rescue Now Has Flower Buds

QOTN Flower BudsThe Queen of the Night cactus (peniocereus greggii) cutting we rescued from up on the hill several years ago is showing a couple of flower buds. This cactus was brought down after a palo verde branch collapsed in a wind and rain storm back then. Damsel put it in a pot and has nurtured it in the courtyard with weekly waterings since that time.

A couple of years ago, the cutting sprouted a new branch which is where the new flower buds are located. That branch and the main stalk have both shown little buds over the past couple of years that never amounted to much. Now, it seems, we have a good thing going. Click on the image to enlarge.

This will be, if all goes well, the first year that these beautiful flowers will bloom in the courtyard. Having them that close is to our great advantage since when they bloom at night we won’t have to go out into the dark (it is very dark here at night) to see, smell and photograph the flowers.

We have summertime plans to get in the RV and head to Colorado and whatever sightseeing we can do along the way, but that might have to be postponed until we see our little courtyard flowers blooming. It’s a good thing we don’t have too many constraints on our ability to flex our plans as we see fit these days.

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Pride of Barbados Flowers Now Opening

Pride of Barbados

It’s one of my favorite days of the year when the Pride of Barbados (a.k.a. Red Bird of Paradise) flowers start to open in our courtyard. The flowers are a little late in opening this year, probably due to climate change a cooler than normal spring. The daytime temperatures are now regularly in the high 90’s to low 100’s and the flower buds on all three of my red bird shrubs in the courtyard are ready to go.

More about these flowering shrubs from Wikipedia:

Caesalpinia pulcherrima is a species of flowering plant in the pea family.

It is a shrub growing to 3 m tall. In climates with few to no frosts, this plant will grow larger and is semievergreen. Grown in climates with light to moderate freezing, plant will die back to the ground depending on cold, but will rebound in mid- to late spring. This species is more sensitive to cold than others. The leaves are bipinnate, 20–40 cm long, bearing three to 10 pairs of pinnae, each with six to 10 pairs of leaflets 15–25 mm long and 10–15 mm broad. The flowers are borne in racemes up to 20 cm long, each flower with five yellow, orange, or red petals. The fruit is a pod 6–12 cm long.

Caesalpina pulcherrima is the national flower of the Caribbean island of Barbados, and is depicted on the upper left and right corners of the Queen Elizabeth II’s personal Barbadian flag. Claire Waight Keller included pride of Barbados to represent the country in Meghan Markle’s wedding veil, which included the distinctive flora of each Commonwealth country.

Click on the image to enlarge.

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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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