Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘Tucson

Life and death in Saguaro National Park

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Behold a fishhook barrel cactus (Ferocactus wislizenii) in the eastern sector of Tucson’s Saguaro National Park as we saw it two years ago today:

Hardy as desert plants are, they all eventually meet their demise. Here’s what a barrel cactus look like then:

Oh, all right, it was Saguaro National Park, so I guess I’ll have to show you a saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea). This one had two particularly enfolding “arms”:

And here are the stately remains of a saguaro with upraised “arms”:

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 8, 2018 at 4:49 AM

Chuckwalla

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Like me, you probably didn’t know that there’s a lizard called a chuckwalla (Sauromalus spp.). This picture from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on November 7th of last year shows that there is.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 2, 2017 at 4:56 AM

Arizona copper ore

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On November 7th last year I couldn’t help noticing that the people who run the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson have placed some colorful slabs of copper ore at the entrance to their establishment. An accompanying sign says: “These boulders were mined south of Tucson. They are rich in copper minerals: the blue-green is chrysocolla, the blue is azurite, and the green is malachite.”

To take this picture I lay on the ground and aimed at an angle elevated enough to include some of the day’s fleecy clouds.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 21, 2017 at 4:47 AM

Desert mistletoe

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The custom of kissing under mistletoe on Christmas, which some of you may have enjoyed yesterday, became popular in England in the 1700s and has spread to other English-speaking countries. While most Christmas traditions come from countries with cold winters, genera of mistletoe grow in warm climates, too. On our recent trip through the American Southwest, I was surprised at how common desert mistletoe (Phoradendron californicum) is there and how conspicuous its hanging clusters of red fruits are in those dry surroundings. I saw this desert mistletoe in a paloverde tree (Parkinsonia spp.) at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on November 7th.

And from earlier that morning in Tucson Mountain Park, here’s a closer look at some dense desert mistletoe branches and fruit.

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 26, 2016 at 5:00 AM

Saguaro slant

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In today’s picture it’s not the saguaro cacti (Carnegiea gigantea) themselves that slant, but the land on which they grow in Tucson Mountain Park. After yesterday’s close-up of a giant saguaro, I felt you should have an overview showing a dense colony of these giant plants. Back on November 7th I thought this was a good way to begin my photo-taking day.

If you’re interested in the craft of photography, you’ll find that point 18 in About My Techniques applies to this image.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 22, 2016 at 5:09 AM

Opportunistically epiphytic*

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prickly-pear-cactus-in-cleft-of-saguaro-2476

The subjects of two recent successive posts—one from California and one from Texas—were epiphytes, organisms that grow on animate or inanimate objects for physical support but not for sustenance. Once in a while the seed of a plant that normally grows in the ground manages to take hold on something above the ground and survive, thus becoming an epiphyte. That was the case with the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia spp.) that I saw on November 8th in the cleft of a giant saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) in the eastern section of Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona.

Given the huge size difference between the two types of cacti, you can’t see the prickly pear well in the photograph above, but you’re welcome to click the excerpt below to zoom in for a closer look.

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* In spite of my hope that the phrase “opportunistically epiphytic” would be unique, an Internet search turned up one other example.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 21, 2016 at 4:00 AM

The other fasciated species I saw in the Southwest

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Fishhook Barrel Cactus with Fasciated Flowers 3038

After the fasciated saguaro you recently saw and the fasciated spectacle pod you’d seen last fall, I’m finishing up that theme by showing you the other fasciated species I encountered in the Southwest: Ferocactus wislizeni, known as a fishhook barrel cactus. Normally its flowers are (approximately) round, but you can see that the two prominent ones on this specimen were stretched out. (If you’d like, you can compare the similar elongation in a prairie verbena flower head that appeared here in 2013.)

I took this picture near the visitor center for Sabino Canyon in northeast Tucson on October 2, 2014, shortly before I came across a fasciated saguaro close by (different from the one I found the following day that you’ve already seen.)

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 25, 2015 at 5:30 AM

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