Monday, February 9, 2009

Weird Cactus Day

My brother collected these Saguaro Boots from the cacti on his property. These boots are formed as scar tissue around the places here woodpeckers peck out a place to nest. They peck out the flesh of the cactus in a downward direction so they can put the base of the nest out of sight from the hole. It makes a boot shape. When the Saguaro dies, these boots are exposed within the cactus skeleton as all the flesh rots away.

My brother bought some land that was virgin desert, and when cleaning it up, he found the cactus skeleton and boot. It's illegal to collect these from the wild. People sometimes use these for craft making or as a natural display.

Grabbing some cheese and crackers, a few pieces of fruit we didn't want to waste another minute of the glorious cloudy day so we decided to check the progress of desert wildflowers. It had been raining part of the night and early morning, so of course the desert rain smell was the biggest lure. We drove about 30 miles to the west side of the White Tank mountains and took a back road to see what we could find.

There were a lot of trails to choose from. We only had to use the 4-wheel-drive twice, and I never had to get out of the truck! We drove 21 miles of the back roads and did not see a wildflower in bloom, or much wildlife for that matter, but saw plenty of strange looking cacti!

This Saguaro has arms growing from the base. I can't remember ever seeing one like it. They typically grow many years before the arms start growing. Because of the growth pattern, it may be a Cardon cactus instead of a Saguaro.

A hawk is watching us drive by.

Perhaps this is her nest.

This barrel cactus fell over and has part of its roots exposed. It has numerous heads growing from the top. I counted 31! Very strange!

Not sure what kind of growth this is. Could be a callus formed after it lost an arm, or maybe some of the liquid oozed out of the cactus after an injury and it hardened into a boot-like structure. I have not seen a cactus boot on the outside of a cactus! The growth is quite high on the tall, armless cactus.

This Cholla will be blooming soon.

Looks like this one grew a long time before deciding to grow the second crop of arms. Perhaps it was a change of life multiple birth years after the first born quads! As we turned around and headed for home, I though we'd had another splendid day loving and living in the Sonoran desert!!


Claude said...

I'd love to be able to drive through the desert and see these wonderful plants... you're so lucky to have access to these sights so close.

And thank you for sharing them with us.!

Dee said...

Great pictures! I drove down from Apache Junction to Tucson through Florence, yesterday afternoon, and the views were wonderful but the only wildflowers I saw were teeny tiny ones no bigger than my pinky fingernail. Little yellow and purple ones- the bigger ones will come soon I hope!

Aiyana said...

How do you find all these interesting trails? I need to get off the beaten path, especially now that we've had the rain these past few days. The wildflowers should be better than average, but probably not as good as last year.

Pudgeduck said...

Aiyana-Just go towards any mountain- always plenty of trails!Hubby hunted for deer in the White Tank area a few years ago. I love driving in the desert anywhere!!

Julie said...

Oh, this is so beautiful! One day I will get there! Maybe next year. And to coin the phrase you used in your other post, "If the good Lord's willing and the creek don't rise", my husband and I will still be working and can afford to do it!