Although it’s not the largest saguaro ever discovered, the colossal specimen along the Dutchman’s Trail in the Superstition Wilderness is a commanding presence. Balancing a massive, Medusa-like crown of spiny arms and isolated in a landscape where neighboring saguaros sport more modest profiles, this impressive plant grabs the spotlight.
But, it might not stand for much longer. An ominous gray scale on its north side and what appears to be a lightning strike in its core may spell its doom…
And then there’s the whole location and hike and map and description information so you too can go and see this mountainous cactus before its gone.
The hike begins at the Peralta Trailhead on Bluff Spring Trail…
In Arizona they are saving the Saguaros one RFID tag at a time.
(S)eeing saguaros disappear from federal lands, Saguaro National Park came up with a modern solution: radio frequency chips.
With the territory so vast and little chance of catching thieves in the act, land managers insert tiny chips into cactus bodies so they can track them down if stolen.
“We’ve literally chipped hundreds of saguaros we think are in at-risk areas — the size and location that could put them at a high risk of being poached,” said Paul Austin, chief ranger at Saguaro National Park, who said cactus poaching has declined since chipping began about five years ago.
Saguaros are Carnegiea gigantea of course. Named for the Robber Baron Carnegie, they are the only plant in the genus and no one has the courage to move it to another genus of plants to which they are closely related. Of course, most botanists would refer to Andrew Carnegie as a Philanthropist, which might be why they’ve kept the name.
Citing everything from grazing to insects, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday granted endangered species protection to two cacti found in Arizona.
The Acuña cactus, found in Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties, is one of two Arizona cacti granted endangered species protection Monday….
These plants, the Acuña cactus and the Fickeisen plains cactus, are the latest two to go through the process and be put on the endangered list.
That is one pretty plant which is the main criteria the government uses for determining what species get protected. I would protect that! The Acuña Cactus (Echinomastus erectocentrus var. acunensis), also known as the Pineapple Cactus, is found in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.
The Fickeisen plains cactus (Pediocactus peeblesianus fickeiseniae), also known as the Navajo Pincushion Cactus, is tiny and also cute and also worthy of protection in my aesthetic opinion.
If a cactus can be “cute,” the Fickeisen plains cactus qualifies. “Cactophiles” are smitten by this petite plant with cream-colored flowers. Unfortunately, illegal collection by enthusiasts and commercial cactus dealers has contributed to the decline of many species in the genus Pediocactus.
I see that a major corporation has decided to use a cactus flower.
The flower shown is Echinocereus triglochidiatus which is actually found in the Grand Canyon. Do you think they actually extracted a scent from this particular plant from this particular location? We’ll never know for sure, but at least they got their marketing materials correct.
Beautiful striped bromeliads among the orchids high up in the jungle canopy of a Kapok tree, from National Geographic’s Photo of the Day.
Photograph by Steve Winter, National Geographic
From the bromeliads, ferns, and orchids that cover a kapok tree 160 feet above the forest floor to the jaguars that prowl below, Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park is home to countless plant and animal species.
Click through for the full picture.
Hanging off the side of a cliff! Nestled in a rock!
Ferocactus cylindriceus, also known as F. acanthodes or California Barrel Cactus or even Miner’s Compass (because it always leans to the South.)
In case you were wondering, I also had to climb up the cliff to get that picture. No tricks were involved.
And next to it was this cute little baby cactus! Also growing in rock.
It’s been a decade since the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to have this cactus listed.
Acuna cactus at Organ Pipe National Monument. Courtesy National Park Service
A small, little-known cactus found in Organ Pipe National Monument west of Tucson faces a “high and immediate” threat of extinction, says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in proposing to protect it as an endangered species.
The Acuña cactus, topping out at about a foot high, is declining fast, having dropped in numbers by more than 50 percent since 1981, the service said….
The service also proposes to designate 53,720 acres, including 29,500 acres of federal land and 14,266 acres of state land, as critical habitat for the Acuña cactus.
That is one very cute little endangered cactus. Cuteness is not the only factor the government considers when reviewing petitions for listing of species, but it doesn’t hurt.
While it’s true that you can tend to dig up cacti and move them, this is not going to go as well as the article suggests.
Prickly Job Ahead At Joshua Tree National Park
Upwards of 800 cholla cactus plants will be dug up to be returned to the area near the Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree National Park after a road-straightening project is completed.
Kurt Repanshek photo.
This is one thorny job.
So first of all, moving the larger plants will cause a lot of them to lose branches. They do come off rather easily, so a large plant will ennd up being a small plant by the time its put back.
Secondly, this is being done in winter when these chollas will be dormant. There will be a lot of root loss, and a lot of the plants won’t come back after that.
Interesting! Someone has found a Ferocactus cylindriceus, aka a California Barrel cactus, in Joshua Tree ie in California where they are normally found, and documented it.
Fenway Park turned 100 yesterday. For those who stop by the nursery regularly you know I often wear a Red Sox hat which wears out after a few years. So off to Fenway to get a new hat. This one Celtics green.
That was Thursday. Here’s from 100 years ago.
(via TPM) Nice!
Exciting news in the world of national park cacti!
A crew surveying plants at Saguaro National Park west of Tucson has made a “shocking” discovery: a mature organ-pipe cactus growing among the saguaros….
The find is significant because the big cacti – with arms somewhat resembling organ pipes – are almost completely limited in this country to warm, low-elevation deserts at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument south of Ajo….
Hubbard said a crew from the monitoring network, which is a part of the National Park Service, found the Saguaro Park specimen in February in a “sort of protected micro-site.”
The plant is big, but clearly not in its ideal environment. You can see the really pronounced yearly variations in width and the most recent growth is not looking healthy, probably a very cold couple of winters.
From the Desert Wildflower Report, we find there are Beavertails in bloom as reported by Rick and Margarita in “Lake Mead NRA between mileposts 7 & 8.”
Very vibrant colors.
I wonder what the mountains in the background are called? Do you think they’re called the Spotted French Peaks?
It’s finally spring here.
And in the deserts of California too. From Desert-USA down in Anza-Borrego.
We walked around the park with my parents in town visiting. Crissy Field, Civil War houses, Goldsworthy Spire.
And Yoda, as recommended by Far Out Flora.
I didn’t get a very good shot of the fountain with my phone, so I made it “artistic” in photoshop instead.
An “artisitic” shot of the Spire after the break. (more…)
Since we’re on about what to do in Texas this weekend, here’s another suggestion – a walk into Big Bend National Park. That’s about 10 hours away from Dallas. I know, since I had to hurry off when I was visiting the park a few years ago to pick up my sister at the airport in Dallas. We visited the Book Depository 6th floor museum, and then made our way to the birthplace of Elvis Presley in Tupelo, Mississippi.
Anyway, back to Big Bend…
Lost Mine Peak Trail, Big Bend National Park, Panther Junction (West Texas)
This walk is much more of a hike than a walk, but it is one of the best in Texas. This 4.8-mile round-trip trek is not for those who are out of shape, but if you walk regularly, it should be no problem since much of the path consists of switchbacks. Just go at a pace that’s comfortable. The rewards are phenomenal. First, you have the walk itself, through thick forest and by cactus and ocotillo and agave. Second is the panoramic view at the top that will take your breath away — guaranteed — if the walk itself hasn’t already done that. It’s the most strenuous walk listed here, since it begins at about a mile high and ascends for an additional 2,000 feet. Getting to the top is part of the fun, since the trail takes you through two very different ecosystems as you gain elevation. At the end of the trail is the supreme reward, where you can relax on one of the rocks and gaze out over what seems to be the entire world below your feet. On a clear day you can see for more than 100 miles. If you get lucky, you might even spy an eagle soaring below. The trail also has a self-guided brochure available at the trailhead to identify all the plants and trees you will pass along the way.
Big Bend is one of my favorite parks, and I hope to make it back.
That would be the Medicine Bow-Routte National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland.
Blue Columbine Holmes Miller/Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Viewers will be treated to a number of wildflowers such as Indian Paintbrush, Kitten Tails and Simpson’s Ball Cactus.
I wonder what Simpson’s Ball Cactus looks like? From the USDA Forest Service’s Coloring pages for kids, we find it looks something like this:
Click to enlarge, and then please print out and give to your local children so they can color the cactus, and then you’ll find out what color the flowers are. Or you can click through here to see a picture of one in bloom in Washington. I don’t know if the Washington and Wyoming populations look the same.