The Enchanting Saguaro Cactus Flower

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Posted on April 22, 2019 by Laura Lucky

Our stately saguaro cactus, native to the Sonoran Desert, impresses with its towering height and long lifespan (often exceeding 150 years). Dotting the landscape in and around Scottsdale, these celebrated saguaro cacti are especially beautiful this time of the year.

The month of May is peak blooming season for the saguaro cacti. You’re sure to see a proliferation of these white, waxy flowers prettily adorning the tops of the cacti. A single saguaro can produce up to 100 flowers every season, which is a good thing since the bloom of a saguaro flower only lasts for less than 24 hours.

The aromatic blooms open only during the night and remain open for just a portion of the following day. In fact, by the afternoon, the flower will begin wilting, never to bloom again. However, that flower typically sees a lot of activity while it’s in bloom for those few short hours.

The flower relies on a variety of desert animals to pollinate it. During the evening, the most frequent visitor to the flower are bats. The flowers’ nocturnal opening, especially rich nectar, and ability to withstand the weight of bats works symbiotically with the bats’ nocturnal schedule and feeding habits. It’s an excellent partnership.

During the daylight hours, birds such as white-wing doves and hummingbirds fill up with their share of nectar and the diurnal honey bees make quick work of pollination that next day while the flower is still in bloom.

Once the saguaro flowers are pollinated, they will mature into bright red fruits and ripen during the month of June, continuing to serve as nourishment for desert-dwelling animals – as well as humans!

The saguaro cactus and its bloom are both iconic symbols of the American Southwest. In fact, Arizona confirmed the saguaro cactus bloom as the state’s official wildflower back in 1931. Enjoy this month in the desert as Mother Nature dazzles us with her gifts of these sweet-smelling and picturesque blooms.

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