Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Here is a really terrible picture of us sitting outside by our lemon tree. The sun was in our eyes and the rig next to ours was casting a big shadow over our patio; but after six tries with the remote shutter release, we called it quits. I have claimed ownership of the lemon tree however temporarily because I wish so much that we could grow citrus in Oregon. I am happy about our apples and cherries though! And just to show you that I wasn't kidding around about it being a fruit-bearing tree, I am passing along a picture of one of its many lemons. Exciting, huh?

Mike got his shock absorber fixed this morning and then got a memory card for his video recorder so that he can shoot still shots in addition to moving ones. Later we went shopping for the unmentionables that I won't mention. Mike was a real trooper on that outing. But while he was getting his shock absorber fixed, I read up on the saguaro cactus in preparation for our trip tomorrow.

It seems the park is divided into two parks--one on the east and one on the west side of Tucson. The west side seems to be the biggest draw, and so we will start there. The museum I mentioned earlier is actually a part of the west side of the park. It would be easy to see pretty much everything on a one-day trip, and so the number of days we spend there will depend on whether there are any other significant hikes not mentioned in the material I've read already. I'm discovering that each park seems to have its own little pocket hiking guide, but we will need to check out the visitor center to see if one exists for this park.

Here are some fun facts: The saguaro blossoms in late spring and only after dark. They are pollinated by bats during the night, and then the blossoms close and wilt by the following afternoon. Despite the pollination by the bats, one saguaro cactus will produce approximately 40 million seeds each year. Many of the cactus live some 200 years, but in their lifetime "only a few" seeds will even so much as germinate. After two years, a healthy, well-established saguaro is only a quarter-inch tall. A fifteen-year-old saguaro is barely a foot tall. Only after sixty or seventy years does the first side branch appear.

And here's something else: Many people are under the impression that if they were lost in the desert, they could cut off the top of a large cactus and drink the water. Apparently that only happens in Hollywood. The moisture stored in most cacti has a toxic level of oxalic acid, and only a few creatures of the desert can neutralize these poisons.

My reading material warns of rattlesnakes (we were watching out fo those in Death Valley and Joshua Tree) and Gila Monsters, and also tell us that the tarantulas we might see are harmless, but that the scorpions have a bite that can be deadly. O-kay. We'll be on the lookout for those. The writer of that little tid-bit followed up by saying he'd never actually seen one. And I hope not to see one either.

So that's all I know about the saguaro and friends. Hopefully I'll have some better pictures for you tomorrow. Take care all.


felix's dad said...

Watch out for the Horny Toads too! ;-)

Barbara said...

Do you have first hand knowledge of the Horny Toads being predatory? It certainly brings a picture to mind.