Desert Botanical Gardens

Late Afternoon

This is a section of the cactus garden near the Gift Shop. In the front area are numerous barrel cactus. The tall plant on the left is an Ocotillo plant. If this plant has fresh green leaves then there was a soaking rain recently. Barrel cactus are planted in front of a group of organ pipe cactus.
This scene contains an euphorbia in the front, the organ pipe cactus in the back and a senita with its hairy tips at the far right.. The two tallest cactii are senitas with prickly pear cactus between and on the far right. Near the ground are some pincushion cactii.

The spikes on the cactus come in all lengths. Only cactus have spine clusters which are growing out of an areole (clearly visible in the photo on the left) Closeup views of this spikesprovide a sense of symmetry from nature.

The above two pictures are of the Ocotillo (0h-koh-TEE-yo) plant which is one of the strangest plants on the desert. Its spiny branches all fan upward from a central base and in the Spring will contain beautiful red bell shaped flowers. Notice that there is no evidence of any leaves on the stems. Only after some heavy rain will the small sleaves fan out around the thorns on the stems.
This is Curve-billed Thrasher which I was lucky enough to get on film. His bright yellow orange eyes do not show but the gray-brown body is obvious. He will use his long bill to search for insects and spiders as well as eat the fruits and flowers of the saguaro cactus. This is a Gila Woodpecker which is checking out his nesting hole in the saguaro cactus. He has drilled a hole in the cactus and hollowed out the inside. Next year he will not return to this one but other birds will use his vacated nest.
This is a closeup of a blossom on one branch of a cholla. When all of the branches are in bloom this will be an amazing site. This staghorn cholle is almost a tree and is nut one of many different types of the staghorn cholle. Dead chollee branches are very similar to a deer's antlers and are filled with a network of holes.
This is one of the prickly pear cactuses in the garden. The fruit on these plants are used for food by humans and animals as well as used in making jelly. This is an attractive bloom on a cactus in the cactus house. The whole plant is only about a foot high.
There are a number of beds filled with these Mexican sunflowers. In the late afternoon there blooms are wide open, but in the early morning they are all shut awaiting the warmth of the sun. This is a small branch from the Acacia Micioneure tree which is in the Mimosa Family. These trees are from Western Australia.

For more information on these plants check out the book

"What Kinda Cactus Izzat?" by Reg Manning.

Pictures taken by B. Athanasiou using Mavica DV-88