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Arizona-Sonora Desert Bursts into Bloom

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S: Arizona-Sonora Desert Bursts into Bloom Wayne Miller

BC: Saguaro Blossoms

FC: Arizona-Sonora Desert Bursts into Bloom | Wayne Miller

1: Prologue Ever since I was stationed at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico in the mid 1960's, I have been fascinated by the desert. I also became interested in photography while at WSMR. Joan and I purchased a winter home in Tucson in the mid 1990's (after numerous vacations to the Southwest), and ever since then we have been taking photographs of the desert, its wildlife and flora. Since the advent of digital photography, its associated computer software programs, and on-line photographic book publishing, I am now publishing my third coffee table book. This book is dedicated to the brave pioneers of Arizona, as well as the original native inhabitants of the great Southwest. It covers some of the spring-blooming flowers, bushes, cacti, and trees of the Tucson area. Some of these plants are native to the Sonoran desert, and others have been imported to this climate. I will not attempt to identify all of them; it is almost impossible to do so, as I discovered attempting to research them. I hope that all of you who read this book appreciate the beauty with which God has blessed the desert. I believe that the vast majority of Americans have absolutely no idea of the beauty that the desert Southwest has to offer. Enjoy! | Wayne Miller

2: We know that spring has arrived and that there has been sufficient rainfall, when the poppies begin to bloom, as they were doing here along the road to Ajo, AZ. | California Poppies

3: A lonely Lupin in the midst of Poppies.

5: As you can see, Poppies come in different colors and shades.

8: Hedgehog Cacti There are two major native hedgehog cacti in AZ: the Claretcup left, and the Strawberry below.

10: Bonkers Hedgehog: this is one of my favorites!

12: A variety very similar to the Strawberry is the Engelmann Hedgehog.

13: Here is a brilliant orange Claretcup Hedgehog.

14: Here is the Engelmann Hedgehog.

15: Most of these other hedgehogs were imported from Texas. This one is similar in color to the Engelmann, but yet different in the plant size and spine length.

16: This is the only "red hedge-hog" that I have seen.

17: These are two of my all time favorites. Unfortunately, the one to the left died and I have never seen it again anywhere.

18: Desert Bluebells are native to the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts. They are perhaps the most intense, beautiful, blue flower that I have ever seen. | Wildflowers

20: Desert Marigolds are a member of the aster family and are native to the Southwest.They will bloom almost year round with minimal moisture.

21: Desert Penstemon or Beards-tongue is native to Arizona and the Sonoran Desert. American Indians used it for tooth aches amongst other things.

22: Desert Penstemon with Desert Marigolds and Lupin with the Catalina Mountains in the background. | Desert Penstemon growing in a wash with Poppies in the background.

23: Desert Penstemon in front of white Desert Mallow or Desert Globemallow, below.

24: Lupin are common in many countries around the world. Our Lupin in the Southwest are poisonous to both cattle and sheep. Here they are growing with California poppies.

25: Brittlebush | Bushes & Trees

26: Brittlebush is a common shrub in northern Mexico and the Southwestern United States. It also had many uses by the Native Americans, from glue, sealer, and gum to use in treating toothaches, etc. These photos were all taken in the Tucson Mountains in the Gates Pass area.

27: When the moisture is just right, the mountain foothills are covered with the yellow blooming Brittlebushes.

28: Fairy Duster bushes are native to the Southwest. They are common in three different colors.

29: Hummingbirds are quite fond of the blooms.

31: Dessert Mallow or Globemallow is quite colorful when the moisture levels are adequate. There are three different colors: orange, pink and white.

33: Desert Mallow

34: Dalea bushes also attract hummingbirds.

35: The Paloverde tree is the state tree of Arizona. In most springs, these trees put on a very beautiful display of color all over the area, both inside and outside of the cities.

36: Crow's Claw Cactus | This particular variety blooms multiple times per year including as late as November.

37: The Blue Barrel Cactus This cactus also comes from Texas.

38: The Golden Barrel | This cactus comes from Mexico and is quite endangered in the wild but very popular in cultivation.

39: Red Spined Barrel Cactus

40: Beavertail Prickly Pear | Long-Spined Prickly Pear | Red Flower Prickly Pear | Engelmann Prickly Pear | Prickly Pear Cacti

41: Beavertail Prickly Pears are native to the Sonoran Desert.

42: Bunny Ears Cactus This is an import from Mexico.

43: The Miniature Santa Rita Prickly Pear Cactus is a hybrid introduced from California.

44: Miniature Santa Rita Prickly Pear Cactus

45: Engelmann Prickly Pear | This is the most common Prickly Pear Cactus in southern Arizona. The fruit is a large red pod with juicy, edible pulp often made into jellies and candies.

46: Engelmann Prickly Pear

47: During our extended drought here in the Southwest, we have lost many of our Engelmann Cacti. Hopefully some of them will be replaced by new plants grown from the seeds where the old plants died. The hillside behind our house lost almost all of its Engelmanns.

48: Chenille or Red Flower Prickly Pear

49: Red Flower Prickly Pear This was an import from Texas.

50: Long-Spined Prickly Pear

51: The Long-Spined or Black-Spined Cactus is native to the Southwest as well as northern Mexico.

52: Santa Rita Prickly Pear This variety is native to Pima County, AZ, the Baja, Sonora, and Chihuahua, Mexico. I have seen plants with solid yellow flowers and plants with a yellow flower and a red to orange center.

53: Variable Colored Prickly Pear This variety (whose name I could not locate) never can make up its mind as to what color it wants to be - red or a very translucent tan. Many of the blooms start out the day as a very pretty rose and end the day as the translucent tan. The bees love them regardless of their color. The blooms on this cactus are smaller than either the Engelmann, Santa Rita, Long-Spined or the Red Flower Prickly Pear.

56: Ocotillo The Ocotillo is not a true cactus. It is native to the Southwest and northern Mexico. After a significant rainfall, in warm weather, it will sprout small leaves all up and down its stems. The leaves may last for weeks to months. These stems have been used by Native Americans for construction for hundreds of years. | The bright crimson flowers appear in the spring, summer or fall. They are pollinated by Hummingbirds. The Verdin birds love to get into the blooms and eat them, making a real mess of the bloom.

58: Torch Cactus These are a relatively new introduction from California. The hybridizers in California are introducing new varieties all the time. Flying Saucer was introduced by Mark Dimmitt of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Bach's Nursery, here in Tucson, is also introducing its own varieties that are quite stunning. | Flying Saucer

59: The blooms of two of the varieties reach up to 6 inches in Diameter: Flying Saucer and Big Bertha (next page).

60: Big Bertha

61: Most of the Torch Cacti buds tend to open simultaneously, as Big Bertha is doing above right. That makes for quite an impressive bloom for one day. The blooms of almost all cacti last only one day or sometimes for only a few hours.

63: Blaze

64: Chris

65: Chris was named after the daughter of the owners of Bach's Nursery here in Tucson.

66: Bees are attracted to all cacti blooms and are quite interesting to observe.

67: Epic

68: Epic

69: Volcanic Sunset | This is a Bach's introduction.

70: Vulcanic Sunset

71: Raspberry

72: Raspberry next to Epic, both in full bloom.

73: Bomb Diggitey | Also from Bach's.

74: Bomb Diggitey

75: First Light

76: First Light

77: Our planter in our front yard, with three Torch Cacti in full bloom. The vast majority of Hedgehog, Barrel and Torch cacti photographs were taken in our yard. If the blooms only lasted longer.....

78: These cacti are native to the Sonoran Desert in Mexico and AZ and a very small area of California. These magnificent cacti can grow to 70 feet in height and live over 150 years. It often takes up to 70 years before any arms are formed. The accordion like skin allows the plant to expand when rains come and contract during dry times. The blooms which occur from April through June are pollinated by bats. Without these bats, the cactus would not reproduce. The red fruits have been harvested by the Tohono O'Odham Indians for 100's of years. Each fruit contains over 2000 seeds. These seeds are used for making wine, jellies and many other things. The ribs were used for construction and the spines for needles. The flower is the AZ state flower. | The Majestic Saguaro

79: Many people do not realize that there are other varieties of Saguaro that are native to various areas in South America. We have two Argentine Saguaros in our back yard.

81: Wayne Miller Author Photographer Wayne and Joan live in Oro Valley, AZ and Moline, IL. Wayne has enjoyed accumulating wildflowers and cacti for their yard; this makes photography much easier for shooting at all hours of the day. | Joan Miller Contributing Photographer

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Wayne Miller
  • By: Wayne M.
  • Joined: about 4 years ago
  • Published Mixbooks: 2
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About This Mixbook

  • Title: Arizona-Sonora Desert Bursts into Bloom
  • Some of the spring blooming wild flowers, cacti, bushes and trees of southern AZ.
  • Tags: None
  • Published: almost 4 years ago

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