Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Saguaro National Park- November 11

We really enjoyed the Cactus Forest Drive through this park. I would encourage anyone coming to this area of Arizona to make this a must see place. The saguaro are the largest cacti in the United States,and has been protected by the Saguaro National park since 1933. I will quote here from the National Park Service brochure: "the saguaro has been called the monarch of the Sonoran Desert,supreme symbol of the American Southwest,and a plant with is renown for the variety of odd,all too-human shapes it assumes"(note here the picture I took of one such plant at sunset with its arms all twisted). The saguaro is vulnerable to very cold weather,droughts, lightning and strong winds.The city of Tucson is growing out toward this park and threatens them also(notice the suburbs off in the distance of a patch of saguaro pictured here). Fortunately the city is keeping these sub-divisions at low density so they can provide buffer zones for the park. The first picture here is of a saguaro with nest holes drilled in it(if you enlarge it you will notice them better). Two birds are able to accomplish this -the Gilia woodpecker and the gilded flicker. At 15 years of age this plant is barely 12 inches tall,at 75 years it may sprout its first arms and at 150 years it may be 50 feet tall and weighting 16,000 pounds or more.

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