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Arizona Springtime Grows in the Sonoran Desert

Updated on June 5, 2013
cactus blossoms
cactus blossoms | Source
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view from my hometown, Apache Junctionthe Sonoran DesertHeather in northern California (left) Heather in central Arizona (right)The cuteness of this pic outweighs the embarrassmentteamwork
view from my hometown, Apache Junction
view from my hometown, Apache Junction | Source
the Sonoran Desert
the Sonoran Desert | Source
Heather in northern California (left) Heather in central Arizona (right)
Heather in northern California (left) Heather in central Arizona (right) | Source
The cuteness of this pic outweighs the embarrassment
The cuteness of this pic outweighs the embarrassment | Source
teamwork
teamwork | Source

Arizona is home to the Sonoran Desert and your very own Heather Says.

The Sonoran is one of the largest and hottest deserts in all of North America. I have lived in central Arizona my entire life and truly love the desert. She's a harsh temptress-- the Sonoran. Where I see beauty, most people might see 10 different ways to get seriously injured. It's true. Venomous creatures, harsh temperatures, and dangerous plants shouldn't be taken lightly. I think the Arizona desert is beautiful all year long, but she's at her prettiest in spring.

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pronounced "ock-oh-tee-oh"pronounced "choy-uh"prickly pear cactus is edible and a good source of vitamin C and magnesiumBirds nest near cholla as the spines protect the birds from predators.this cactus is native to Texas, but grows in Arizona
pronounced "ock-oh-tee-oh"
pronounced "ock-oh-tee-oh" | Source
pronounced "choy-uh"
pronounced "choy-uh" | Source
prickly pear cactus is edible and a good source of vitamin C and magnesium
prickly pear cactus is edible and a good source of vitamin C and magnesium | Source
Birds nest near cholla as the spines protect the birds from predators.
Birds nest near cholla as the spines protect the birds from predators. | Source
this cactus is native to Texas, but grows in Arizona
this cactus is native to Texas, but grows in Arizona | Source

What's springtime like in the Desert?

Most people joke that spring and autumn don't come to the Arizona desert, and for good reason. Living here is mostly highlighted by mild winters and scorching summers. Spring and autumn, if they exist, are really just a few weeks that punctuate the transition from summer to winter and summer again. At least it feels this way. The weather is "nice enough" to open the windows in your house. Summer has come early and stayed late many times. We've had many HOT Easters and Halloweens, if that gives you an idea.

While we don't experience the beautiful fall foliage where I live in Arizona (other parts of AZ do), we do get to experience springtime in bloom. The rest of the year might leave the Arizona desert looking like a wasteland, but our state motto Ditat Deus (“God Enriches”) makes perfect sense in the spring. From March-June, the Arizona desert is bursting with color and looking her loveliest. While we get very little annual rainfall (which is what classifies a desert as a, well, desert), the cactus stores its water and it doesn't take much for the wildflowers to bloom in the spring.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The flowers are about 3 inches across, yellow to bright red-orange, with the full range of colors visible on the same plant at the same time.Researchers at Arizona State University have extracted several desert-marigold compounds, e.g., fastiglin, baileyolin, and radiatin, which might help in cancer therapy by inhibiting tumor formation.Native to desert areas, but can be grown successfully in all regions.The hedgehog cactus has about 50 species associated with it.Also called sore-eye poppies or pink-eye poppies. Tiny leaf hairs on the mallow are an eye irritant, discouraging herbivores from eating it.
The flowers are about 3 inches across, yellow to bright red-orange, with the full range of colors visible on the same plant at the same time.
The flowers are about 3 inches across, yellow to bright red-orange, with the full range of colors visible on the same plant at the same time. | Source
Researchers at Arizona State University have extracted several desert-marigold compounds, e.g., fastiglin, baileyolin, and radiatin, which might help in cancer therapy by inhibiting tumor formation.
Researchers at Arizona State University have extracted several desert-marigold compounds, e.g., fastiglin, baileyolin, and radiatin, which might help in cancer therapy by inhibiting tumor formation. | Source
Native to desert areas, but can be grown successfully in all regions.
Native to desert areas, but can be grown successfully in all regions. | Source
The hedgehog cactus has about 50 species associated with it.
The hedgehog cactus has about 50 species associated with it. | Source
Also called sore-eye poppies or pink-eye poppies. Tiny leaf hairs on the mallow are an eye irritant, discouraging herbivores from eating it.
Also called sore-eye poppies or pink-eye poppies. Tiny leaf hairs on the mallow are an eye irritant, discouraging herbivores from eating it. | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
A buckhorn cholla can live to be 30 years old or older.Although Aloe Vera is a tropical plant, the root can survive freezing air temperatures.  If the ground is not frozen the roots can survive.also known as "old man cactus"Buckhorn cholla flowers range from yellow to red with many shades in between.Also called "bunny ears cactus" and can rot if it receives too much water.
A buckhorn cholla can live to be 30 years old or older.
A buckhorn cholla can live to be 30 years old or older. | Source
Although Aloe Vera is a tropical plant, the root can survive freezing air temperatures.  If the ground is not frozen the roots can survive.
Although Aloe Vera is a tropical plant, the root can survive freezing air temperatures. If the ground is not frozen the roots can survive. | Source
also known as "old man cactus"
also known as "old man cactus" | Source
Buckhorn cholla flowers range from yellow to red with many shades in between.
Buckhorn cholla flowers range from yellow to red with many shades in between. | Source
Also called "bunny ears cactus" and can rot if it receives too much water.
Also called "bunny ears cactus" and can rot if it receives too much water. | Source

Facts about the Arizona Desert

10 fast facts

  1. Rainfall averages for Arizona range from less than three inches in the deserts to more than 30 inches per year in the mountains.
  2. If you cut down a protected species of cactus in Arizona, you could spend more than a year in prison.
  3. Thirteen species of rattlesnakes live in Arizona, more species than in any other state.
  4. The Saguaro cactus is the largest cactus found in the U.S. It can grow as high as a five-story building and is native to the Sonoran Desert.
  5. Arizona grows enough cotton each year to make more than one pair of jeans for every person in the United States.
  6. The saguaro cactus blossom is the official state flower. The white flower blooms in May and June, opening in the middle of the night and closing the next day—surviving only about 18 hours for pollination.
  7. The Sonoran Desert is the most biologically diverse desert in North America.
  8. A saguaro cactus can store up to nine tons of water.
  9. Desert marigold either fresh or dried, are poisonous to goats and sheep, but not to cattle or horses.
  10. With the right growing conditions, it is estimated that saguaros can live to be as much as 150-200 years old.

Heather Says: Springtime in the Sonoran desert is certainly beautiful. If you ever get to visit and take your own pictures, please be careful. Cactus are dangerous, no matter how careful you are. Cholla are nicknamed "jumping cactus" for a reason. Springtime is also when the rattlesnakes start to come out, so exercise caution. You also can't come to Arizona without having someone take your picture next to a saguaro (pronounced "sue-are-oh"). They only grow in the Sonoran desert of Arizona and Mexico. If you forget, it'll be here waiting for you. Saguaros don't grow arms until they are about 50 years old and can live to be 200. We took roadtrips all over the United States when I was a child. As soon as I saw a saguaro, I knew we were home.

Comments

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    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Beautiful photos, Heather. Great hub! Voted up!

    • Heather Says profile imageAUTHOR

      Heather Rode 

      6 years ago from Buckeye, Arizona

      Thanks Pamela :)

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      It always amazes me what beautiful flowers grow in the desert. Your pictures are beautiful. Up and beautiful.

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