Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Fasciated saguaro

with 33 comments

Fasciated and Backlit Saguaro 3652

In a post last October that showed a fasciated spectacle pod plant in Albuquerque, I mentioned that it was one of four such specimens I saw on my Southwest trip. I promised you’d see more, so here’s one of two fasciated saguaros (Carnegiea gigantea) that I saw in Arizona. The photograph is from October 3, 2014, in the Rincon Mountain District of Saguaro National Park on the east side of Tucson.

If you’re new to fasciation, also known as cristation, or if you’d like a refresher, you can read an introductory article that coincidentally includes a picture from Saguaro National Park, although it’s the part of the park on the other side of Tucson from the one that provided today’s photograph.

This gigantic fasciation marks the conclusion of the saguaro miniseries that’s been fascinating you for several days.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 16, 2015 at 5:18 AM

33 Responses

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  1. This fasciated Saguaro has a lovely aura.

    Steve Gingold

    January 16, 2015 at 5:41 AM

    • It’s from that old familiar backlighting again. The necessary alignment meant I couldn’t shoot the saguaro straight-on, which is to say perpendicular to the flattened part, but I had enough depth of field to compensate for the differing distance from left to right (as well as from top to bottom.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 16, 2015 at 6:19 AM

  2. Wow that is crazy cool! What an amazing pattern!

    Cathy Testa

    January 16, 2015 at 5:45 AM

  3. You even captured a spider’s thread! Do you think the neighboring saguaro
    are jealous of this cactus’s uniqueness? 😉


    January 16, 2015 at 6:28 AM

    • I can’t say whether the neighboring plants were jealous, but I was zealous in recording the four fasciations I saw on my trip.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 16, 2015 at 6:34 AM

  4. I like the deep folds and grooves. They serve an important purpose for cacti.

    Jim in IA

    January 16, 2015 at 7:00 AM

  5. As an exercise in the interpretation of Rorschach diagrams I see a portly fellow waving hello! Sorry Steve, I couldn’t resist. Nice use of back light.

    Pairodox Farm

    January 16, 2015 at 7:13 AM

  6. ART!


    January 16, 2015 at 8:24 AM

  7. Beautiful Steve, I’m going to be following you with this theme, and adding the word “fasciation” to my glossary. Your images as always delightful.

    Maria F.

    January 16, 2015 at 8:36 AM

    • They have like a “valve system”.

      Maria F.

      January 16, 2015 at 8:38 AM

    • At first I thought you meant a WordPress theme, but fasciation is much more interesting. I look forward to seeing some from Puerto Rico.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 16, 2015 at 10:04 AM

  8. Love the angle and back-lighting on this!


    January 16, 2015 at 11:00 AM

    • I took pictures from the sunlit side as well, but I wanted at least some with backlighting. Blocking the sun with the cactus put me in a position where I couldn’t shoot the saguaro straight-on, which is to say perpendicular to the flattened part, but the bright light let me stop down for enough depth of field to compensate for the differing distances from left to right and from top to bottom.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 16, 2015 at 11:32 AM

  9. Just beautiful! Looks like Gumby (sorry, my vivid imagination at work). Great post.


    January 16, 2015 at 1:12 PM

  10. Excellent conclusion as this is very fasciNATING! This thing looks unreal to me, the shape, the texture, and your perspective just makes it even more surreal. I appreciate your fasciNATION with plants as your blog showcases that they’re a lot more than some of us give them credit for! After all they are their own kingdom! 😉


    January 16, 2015 at 5:20 PM

    • From a kingdom to a nation: the fasciNATION of your typography. And let’s not leave out your surreal imagiNATION. (I’ll add that the Surrealists influenced me when I was in college.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 16, 2015 at 9:27 PM

  11. Looks like a giant jeweled hand! Amazing! Love this one in particular. 🙂


    January 16, 2015 at 6:41 PM

    • People’s imaginations are reading various things into this, so a giant jeweled hand fits right in—and we can try to conjure up the glove that it fits right into.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 16, 2015 at 9:30 PM

  12. What an amazing sight. Did you know it was out there to be found (e.g., marked on trail maps) or did you just come across it? I think if I’d looked up and seen this, I would have stood around staring for a while, before I even attempted a photo. Fasciation generally is an interesting phenomenon, but this is a breath-taking example.

    I do have to add that, for me, it rather resembles a nice skein of yarn.


    January 16, 2015 at 9:19 PM

    • In an area near the visitor center the previous day at Sabino Canyon I came across my first fasciated saguaro, one that had a plaque near it that told a little about the strange phenomenon so that people would know what they were looking at. The one in today’s picture, which had no plaque near it, suddenly caught my eye as I was driving along a loop road in the eastern part of the national park. I stopped at the first convenient place to park and walked the five minutes back to the saguaro to photograph it, which I did from various angles. I can’t say if these fasciated specimens are marked on local trail maps because I never used any; if I were the mapmaker, I’d certainly include them.

      I don’t think I’d ever have imagined a skein of yarn, but as has happened so many times with people’s suggestions, I can see it now that it’s been proposed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 16, 2015 at 9:49 PM

  13. […] the fasciated saguaro you recently saw and the fasciated spectacle pod you’d seen last fall, I’m finishing up […]

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