Thursday, July 4, 2013

Symbol of the desert

A long time ago I lived in Japan and worked at an international school there.  The children were from many different countries - Italy, the US, Australia, Russia, Thailand, etc. The school had two co-teachers present for every lesson every day (see what private money can provide) who taught in English and Japanese.  Most of the learning was project-based and depended on the interests of the children.  At the time I was there, a group of 8-10 year olds were interested in the Saguaro cactus.  I think they learned about it in a book and then decided to do some additional research on the unique cactus that grows in a very limited part of the world.
The Saguaro cactus is a gigantic cactus that can grow up to 70 feet tall and is only found in Arizona, part of California, and the northern parts of Mexico.  The have a very long life span and can take up to 75 years to develop a side arm.  So when you look at the cactus in the photo above, you can get a sense of how old it must really be and when you look below you can see how tall they are.  (Kyle is 5'10" so you can see the cactus is MUCH taller than a man.)
Scottsdale has Saguaro everywhere and the guide on our horseback ride told us that they are protected by the government.  He showed us what one looks like when it dies and that people by the wood from a dead Saguaro to make furniture or decorative items for the home.
We saw the Saguaro above on our Pinnacle Peak hike and I thought the contrast between the dying and alive parts of the tree where interesting. I also love how each one is so unique and that they provide water, food, and shelter for many different animals, mostly birds.

Woodpeckers make the holes in the cacti but then other birds and owls make their homes within them.  The flowers on top bloom at night from April to June and by late June they produce fruit.
I can see how after a while of seeing the Saguaro everywhere you would ignore it because it is so commonplace.  But for a visitor, the Saguaro is an incredible species.  It can even hold up to 6 tons of water!

1 comment:

cathybcareers said...

Grace looks like she was hunting for shade under that rock!Great photos some of them should be framed.