|This is for a family and friends.
Or if you have visited the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
We came to a stop then turned onto Houghton Road.
In the 1920’s grazing and development threatened the existence of the Saguaro. The Saguaro forests began to disappear as mature cactus were chopped down to make way for roads and livestock trampled seedlings. A man by the name of Homer Shantz led the efforts to save the Saguaro and establish the Saguaro National Park. His efforts lead to the saving of the Saguaro for future generations.
In 1933 President Hoover authorized the Saguaro National Monument and in 1994 it became a national park.
The park is divided into two districts, lying approximately 20 miles east and 15 miles west of the center of Tucson, Arizona. Total area of the park is 143 square miles, 91, 327 acres, 2/3rds of which is designated wilderness. Beautiful tracts of the Sonoran Desert are conserved in both districts including ranges of significant hills, the Tucson Mountains in the west and the Rincon Mountains in the east.
The park gets its name from the saguaro cactus which is native to the district. The saguaro has been called the monarch of the Sonoran Desert, supreme symbol of the American Southwest, a plant with a personality, and renowned for its variety of odd shapes. Interestingly the ones we see with “arms” are probably at least 75 years old. The oldest ones, about 150-200 years old, are the towering 50ft ones we see and weigh in at 16,000 pounds. They are the largest cacti in the United States and can live to be 200 years old. The saguaro is a slow growing plant and in a year a seedling will only measure about 1/4 inch. After 15 years only a foot and they do not begin to flower until around 30 years.
Another interesting thing I read about the saguaro is how they store and conserve the water. They collect water with a network of roots that lies about three inches below the desert surfaces and stretches as far from the main trunk as the saguaros is tall. Accordion-like pleats allow the cactus to expand and hold the water and the spongy flesh in its trunk and branches serves as a reservoir storing water as a slow-to-move gelatin like substance. During a single rainfall they may soak up as much as 200 gallons of water, enough to last the saguaro a year.
|In front of the visitor center.
Leaving the Visitor Center we took the eight mile Cactus Forest Drive. Warning — what will follow is pictures of Cacti.
|Ocotillo (not a cactus)
Bare here but with moisture the
stems will fill with small green leaves.
March through June dense red clusters
of tubular flowers will grow at the tips
of the stems. I love the look of this bush.
|In the front Staghorn Cholla
|Chain-fruit Cholla, behind the Prickly Pear
|More Staghorn Cholla with Saguaros as far as
we could see.
|Teddy Bear Cholla
|The symbol of the southwest.
|Javelina Rocks named after their favorite inhabitants.
(Javelinas are not pigs. They are peccaries and
weigh about 60 pounds.)
Advice from a Cactus: 1. Get plenty of sunshine
2. Accentuate your strong points
3. Be patient through the dry spells
4. Conserve your resources
5. Wait for your time to bloom
6. Stay sharp