100th

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.

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That was Thursday. Here’s from 100 years ago.

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(via TPM) Nice!

A Cactus Flower Blooms

in Joshua Tree, they’ve got a good amount of wildflowers this year, what with a wet winter and all. Plus they’ve found the first cactus blooms of the year.

Ample winter rains and gradually warming temperatures are stimulating the annual desert wildflowers at Joshua Tree National Park, naturalist Joe Zarki reports.

While the great carpets of wildflowers seen in 2005 and 2008 have yet to develop, concentrations of up to 50 species are starting to appear in some park locations, Zarki stated in a news release….

The season’s first cactus blossom in the park, the lovely orange-red Mojave mound cactus, was found in the Lost Horse Valley area.

Wish I could get out there, but not this year. It’s still a little early for us, though the buds are forming…

Alcatraz

Succulent gardens on Alcatraz are blooming.

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Today, thanks to dozens of green-thumbed volunteers and Garden Conservancy staff, Alcatraz is blooming again. (Provided by the Garden Conservancy)

Here’s my photo of the leading edge of the island covered by Agave americanas, many of them in bloom.

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Closer… Read More…

Are Saguaros Slow Growing?

Yes, they are slow-growing. Here, let’s check in with the National; Park Service:

It can take 10 years for a saguaro cactus to reach 1 inch in height. By 70 years of age, a saguaro cactus can reach 6 and a half feet tall, and will finally start to produce their first flowers. By 95-100 years in age, a saguaro cactus can reach a height of 15-16 feet, and could start to produce its first arm.

NPS Photo. Saguaro Cactus can grow to heights of 45 feet

Barrel Cactus, Joshua Tree NP

Hanging off the side of a cliff! Nestled in a rock!

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Ferocactus cylindriceus, also known as F. acanthodes or California Barrel Cactus or even Miner’s Compass (because it always leans to the South.)

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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.

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Cactus Among the Grasslands

High desert among the grasslands of Colorado? Pawnee National Grasslands are a bonanza for walking and birdwatching and flower spotting too. This is a long excerpt, but there’s even more if you click through. More pictures, more interesting descriptions. It makes me want to go visit, you know.

This spring brought downpour after downpour of rain, making the prairie burst into bloom. The pioneers who came here in the 1880s learned that plowing the sod in the arid high desert shouldn’t have been done and when the Dust Bowl hit in the 1930s, the farms were abandoned.

After the people gave up on their dreams and forfeited their land, it reverted back to its natural state. Remnants of homesteads, windmills and cemeteries can be seen from the trails near the Buttes…

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Whenever we’d see a photo opportunity, I’d say, “Stop!” Wild flowers were everywhere we looked, a sea of lavender, Vetch, Yellow Evening Primrose, Ball Cactus, Prickly Pear Cactus, Sand Lilies, bright pink Locoweed, Penstemon, lavender, Fleabane, and yellow sweet clover.

Just watch where you step, OK?

Cactus Census

Saguaro National Park makes the news every ten years or so.

Saguaro National Park counts its saguaro cactus population every decade.

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Good to know.

“In the past, we had more of the very tall ones, the older saguaros,” Swann said.  “But a lot of those older saguaros have died over the years.”

That can’t be good.

“The population seems to be coming back,” Swann said.

Yay!

(I)t will take time… “A saguaro that’s about an inch tall, is about seven years old,” Swann explained.

Indeed that is so. Sooooo slooooowwww….

When people used to regularly take saguaros out of the desert to put in their yard, they actually took a whole generation of medium-sized plants out. That’s why with the oldest saguaros dying, they’re not being replaced with new giants yet. It will take years for the newly protected babies to fill in behind that lost generation.

Cactus Kids

Kids ride bikes in the desert, Newspaper takes notice.

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Rider Cassie, 11, negotiates the Cactus Forest Trail during a Trips for Kids Southern Arizona group ride through Saguaro National Park East.
Photos by Greg Bryan / Arizona Daily Star

Fortunately, nobody fell into a cactus, so all’s well that ends well.

Cactus Products

I see that a major corporation has decided to use a cactus flower.

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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.

California Barrel Cactus

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.

Project Noah

Nice!

Campaign Suspension Quote of the Day

From my Senator:

Now, how about a cactus?

Here’s a good one from Joshua Tree National Park:

Suszan Standing Next to the Cholla Cactus
A cholla cactus stuck to my elbow while I was taking pictures. Removing it from my skin was a painful process because each thorn consists of microscopic, jagged edges that tore my flesh.

That’s an Opuntia bigelovii, aka Teddy Bear Cholla, or Jumping Cholla. Photo borrowed from Joshua at fotohorizon.com.

Chollas in the Park

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.

Cougars

…among the Saguaros!

“We had our first rattlesnake sighting today,” she announced….

Hikers on the Cactus Forest Trail in Saguaro National Park were startled Sunday by a sign warning that aggressive mountain lions had been sighted in the last 36 hours….

All this, and more, signal that the Sonoran Desert spring is full upon us, with all its ambivalent blessings.

So goes the Arizona spring. Via the Arizona Daily Star. Click through to see the Palo Verdes in bloom.

Crested Saguaro

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Genn sends a photo from the Arizona desert. And it’s a crested Saguaro!

Denver Mint

The Arizona quarter is finally being released, with the famous Saguaro design.

Isn’t it lovely?

I see some Opuntias on there too, plus what is that I see in the background? Why, I think it’s a sunset! Yes! Yes it is a sunset! And here I thought the sun set over the Pacific, as viewed from California, not over the Grand Canyon. What were those numismatists thinking?

Desert Pronghorn Endangered

Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge

In 2002, there were only about 21 Sonoran pronghorn left in the United States. But their numbers are rising as researchers have collaborated to carve out a home on a wildlife refuge, expand the herd with a captive-breeding program and help the animals reclaim their range….

in 2002, their entire range went dry… Pronghorn can also eat cactus to survive, researchers have found. They will eat chain-fruit cholla, which is 85 percent water, Hervert said, but it doesn’t provide a lot of nutrition.

In 2002, biologists watched as the last of the herd was reduced to eating cholla, slowly starving to death and more than likely within a few weeks of dying, Hervert said. “It was hard to watch.”

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When rains finally came, the herd stabilized, but the agencies watching the animals knew that something had to be done.

Drought in the Desert

People think that because cactus and succulents may come from a desert that they can handle the California drought. But it’s a record drought! Even desert plants need some water. For instance, the Joshua Trees…

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — In the California desert, Joshua tree seedlings are shriveling up and dying before they get the chance to put down strong roots, and ecologist Cameron Barrows wants the details.

The University of California, Riverside scientist knows that hot weather and lack of rainwater hurt the iconic species…

East Cape Poker

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Kniphofia rooperi

Big shaggy leaves, but really it’s all about the blooms, as it is with all these aloe relatives. What sets this one apart is that the flowers are a fairly dense pyramid, unlike the regular red hot pokers you see everywhere. And they have both the yellow and the red together, in one fell swoop.

Also, they are from the East Cape unlike the red hots, which are not from the East Cape.

I wonder what East Cape it is they’re talking about? I’ve been to the east side of Cape Cod, but it’s not usually called the East Cape there, it’s usually called the Outer Cape, or the National Seashore. Really, they’re my favorite beaches in the whole world, those easterly beaches of Cape Cod, but then I’ve never seen any of these kniph’s over there, so it must be another East Cape they mean.

Probably not this one either.

Maybe this one.

Endangered Cacti

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.

Endangered Species May Get Protection After All

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

Tony Davis Arizona Daily Star

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.

Epi

epiphyllum

Epiphyllum species hanging off a tree in Carara National Park, Costa Rica

Expanding Parks

What with the new President coming in and all (soon…), the Senate has passed a bill to expand wilderness areas, including a larger Joshua Tree National Park:

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In California, Joshua Tree National Park (above) would expand under the legislation along with two other areas in the state. (Gabriel Bouys / AFP/Getty Images)

Nice picture of yuccas. Any cactus being saved too? Indeed!

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Joshua Tree National Park cactus garden is one of many wonders in the high desert. (Gabriel Bouys / AFP/Getty Images)

But is there anything the SF Chronicle can tell us to go along with these pretty pictures? Why, but of course!

This bill would designate as wilderness some 190,000 acres of scenic and ecologically sensitive desert land in the mountains of Riverside County adjacent to Palm Springs, including large chunks of Joshua Tree National Park….

The designation of 80,000 acres of additional wilderness in Joshua Tree National Park would protect the high, moist Mojave desert habitat, which supports Joshua trees, and the lower, warmer Colorado desert ecosystem, where Cholla cactus is prevalent.

Grand Canyon

The Blue Mountains Courier-Herald from Thornbury, ON, Canada sends out travel writers to visit US National Parks on occasion. The Canadian travel writers don’t stay in lodges, they tent it.

Just got back from hiking and camping in the Grand Canyon Sunday night and I have to tell you the place is amazing….

Flowering cacti was the subject of our amateur yet brilliant photography.

Our eyes screened the rocky desert hoping to sight a blooming prickly pear cactus or the violet flowers peeping from a barrel head or hedgehog cactus. Although only April, pictures were snapped for our aspiring wall galleries at home.

It does seem to be a good year for cactus blooms everywhere. Even the National Parks are getting in on the act. And yet these Canadians didn’t publish any of this chap’s photos for me to “borrow.” How rude of them.

Guess-the-Plant Blog Entry and Photo-of-the-Day

From National Geographic’s Photo of the Day

Grazing Eland, Drakensberg Range, South Africa, 2001

Photograph by Kenneth Garrett

The rich foliage, roots, and bulbs on the slopes of South Africa’s Drakensberg Range attract a wide variety of mammals, including eland, the world’s largest antelope species. Logging, overgrazing, and soil erosion, however, threaten this critical African habitat.

What plants are there in the Drakensberg Range? Read on…
Read More…

Have Cactus Will Travel

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.

Have GPS Will Travel

The LA Times sends their intrepid reporter an hour’s drive away to Joshua Tree NP armed with all the latest gadgets, and he survives.

The Times’ Dan Neil scans the gorgeous, punishing terrain of Joshua Tree National Park, site of his recent solo hiking and camping trip. He was armed with some of the latest in backcountry electronics — the tools of “e-survival,” as he calls it. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Apparently there were 2 people on this trip, the reporter and the photographer.

More from the article:

Going solo into the backcountry — or on a sailboat around Catalina, or on a mountain bike in Moab, Utah, for that matter — always implies a trade-off, the exchange of safety for reverie. Nearly always, the risk is worth it…

Is navigating always about being certain where you are, or is there magic in getting lost and finding your way again, much like life itself?…

Life abounds at Joshua Tree: jumping cholla, candelabra cactus, pinyon and juniper pines, lizards and rabbits and hawks, life everywhere. But it’s all so close to the margin. When a cactus dies in Joshua Tree, it doesn’t just shrivel but suddenly collapses, an ashy skeleton of itself. There are no fat jack rabbits. I take this as an object lesson.

Helena Montana

The Helena National Forest has a lovely <a href="https://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/exit.php?url_id=1749&amp;entry_id=1552" title="http://www.fs.fed.us/rl/helena/resources/heritage_resources/lewis_clark.shtml" onmouseover="window.status=’http://www.fs.fed.us/rl/helena/resources/heritage_resources/lewis_clark.shtml’;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Lewis and Clark Expedition</a> page, and in the frosty winter I thought I’d share a cactus bloom with you.<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><span style="font-style: italic;"><img width="142" hspace="5" height="212" border="2" align="left" src="/blog/uploads/misc/lc_prickleypear.jpg" />The Three Forks, the headwaters of the Missouri River offered the exhausted travelers a short reprieve. The men hunted, fished and worked skins into leather for clothes and moccasins. The captains took map readings and scouted ahead. For Sacajawea, this was the place where she had been captured and taken to the Mandan village. Recognizing her homeland and assuring them that her people were near, boosted the men’s spirits.<br />
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The expedition did eventually find the Shoshone and obtained horses, thanks in large part to Sacajawea. After several more months of strenuous travel through the mountains and down the Columbia River, in November 1805, they finally reached the Pacific Ocean.</span><br /></div><br />

It's a Blooming Desert

And the San Diego Union-Tribune takes you into the heart of the wildflowers.

The heavy rainfall this winter has given us an outstanding wildflower bloom in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park…

Nothing is as exciting to me as the bright fuchsia blooms of the beavertail, and they’re sticking out all over now. Besides the barrel cactus, you’ll also see the blooms on the fishhook cactus, as well as the cholla.

Among the amazing discoveries in a spring desert wildflower season are the tiny blooms that cover the sandy desert floor. You have to look closely for these little wonders. See if you can spot the yellow and pink sand verbena, the bright yellow gold poppies, and the tiny white rock daisies.

What? No pictures? I’ll find some for you.

From the State of California, no help from the SD Union-Tribune, we have a brand new wildflower map (pdf)! Now that is awesome.

And they have pictures too.

ocotillo buds monkey flower mt palm spring web barrel cactus

I must say I haven’t appreciated the State as much as I should. I went looking for wildflower photos and the private enterprises, like the local newspapers in San Diego, failed me. But the State came through. Good stuff.

DesertUSA also has good wildflower updates, right up to the minute.

Water When Dry is also a good place to find out about what’s blooming in the cultivated deserts of Arizona. Todays blooms include Mammillaria and Baileya.

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