Thursday, June 12, 2008

Delicate Beauty among the Spines

When I think of the word desert, one of the first images that comes to mind is cactus. But of the four deserts found in North America, only one, the Sonoran Desert  in southern Arizona, southern California and northwestern Mexico is famous for its cacti. The mighty Saguaro live there, with its arms reaching up towards the sky. The Mojave Desert in southern Nevada and California is known more for its Joshua trees, although it has quite a few cholla, spiky two-foot tall branching cacti. The Chihuahuan Desert is primarily in Mexico but stretches northward into southern Texas and New Mexico and has numerous agaves, including the neat Century Plant. And finally there's the Great Basin Desert, centered over Nevada and poking into Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and California. It's considered to be a cold desert and contains oceans of sagebrush separated by pinyon and juniper covered mountain islands. It doesn't have many cacti, but still the careful observer can find some. And during the late spring and early summer, colorful flowers help show off these prickly inhabitants.
The stunning color of this red flower caught my eye one day when we were sightseeing in some nearby hills. We call them hills out here, even though they rise over 2,000 feet above the valley floor. That's still chunk change compared to the mountains, which tower up to 8,000 feet over the valley floor. But I digress. Back to the flowers. It had rained recently, and the petals had captured the drops of precious water.
More common are pink flowers. I found this one yesterday. Cactus flowers always amaze me with how delicate they look, especially with the stark contrast of the prickly spines so close to them.
This flower looked even more delicate, rising up off a narrow cactus pedestal.
Looking down into the flower, I could see how complex it was. And a sister flower was next to it, waiting for the right moment to show its beauty.
This bloom caught my eye. It is the ultimate image of spring in the desert. A beautiful sight that's able to survive the harsh desert conditions.

1 comment: said...

I love the waxy smooth look of cactus flower petals.

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