Superstars of the desert – the Saguaro flowers

My wish of seeing the Saguaro blooms has been granted, even though with Steve’s situation it’s under less-than-desirable circumstances.  But we’re enjoying this opportunity as our consolation for being in Tucson this time of the year.  The best way to view the white Saguaro bouquets was to revisit Saguaro National Park. Driving there was also a step forward for Steve, as it was his first outing following surgery when he wasn’t feeling like a zombie from all the drugs.

It’s said that the indicator plant of the Sonoran Desert is the majestic Saguaro cactus, the icon of the southwest.  During late April thru June, as other desert wildflowers have done their thing and wilted, the superstars of the desert awaken to fill the landscape with blooms at the ends of their arms, like a bouquet of white flowers.

In our past visits here, these tall green giants seemed to stand patiently awaiting their turn to show off.  The time has finally arrived and we are glad to be here to admire the explosion of floral beauty.

 

Surprisingly, the Saguaro flower is a short-lived beauty; it opens after sunset and by the next early afternoon the blossom wilts.  Despite this short time period, the flower attracts an array of pollinators.  During the night they’re pollinated by the Mexican long-tongued bat and the lesser long-nosed bat, while daytime hours bring the birds and bees to a feast as they continue the pollination process.

The Northern Flicker waits for his turn

The Saguaro flower clusters don’t all bloom at the same time on the plant; the blooming cycle of a single Saguaro can last up to 6 weeks before all of the flowers have opened and closed for the last time.  The road leading to Steve’s doctor’s offices are lined with Saguaros, so for several weeks we got to see the progression of the blooms each time we drove by.

Getting up close and personal, I discovered the flowers are trumpet-shaped with silky white petals, each containing hundreds of golden stamens.

The flowers are suppose to emit a strong smell, sort of like overripe melons but then I am vertically challenged to reach them so I could not confirm that.

Seeing the Saguaro flowers is a tick off from my “must-see” list and I’m really happy with that.

Steve update:

The drive to Saguaro National Park – East and West – signaled one of the first breakthroughs for Steve.  Since his hospital discharge the focus had been to fatten him up and reverse his weight loss.  It would have been an easy task if not for the terrible pain he had when swallowing.  As time went on he was able to slowly progress from a liquid diet through soft foods, and then onto “real foods” in four weeks.  His speech impediment has lessened and his energy level remains high, as he has to actually reduce his daily walking routine so he won’t walk off all the weight we’re trying to put on him!

Pancit

After a month he could handle one of his favorites, my Pancit

Head and throat pains linger, and Tylenol is his friend.  In order to distract from nagging pain he works on simple repairs.  Serious hiking is still a ways off, but we walk around the RV park and in the area several times every day.  As for me, our daily walks meet my 10,000 steps goal which is wonderful!

His next phase is radiation therapy, beginning on June 6th.  Just as he’s gained weight and is feeling better, he’ll soon be back to square one for a while.  We know we’ll get through it, taking one day at a time as we’ve been doing.

The ” fight the cancer beast team” on a cool day at SNP