Having lived in Arizona for over 30 years, Chuck and his wife enjoy the great outdoors of the American Southwest.
Monstrose Apple Cactus Flower
Arizona Desert Blooms in Springtime
While America’s Southwestern Deserts appear as barren sand covered with patches of brown and very dry vegetation most of the year, in Spring, following the winter rains, the vegetation is transformed into a lush green and dotted with beautiful flowers.
Wild flowers sprout and pop up all over the landscape while the cacti and other succulents, which have been designed by nature to store water from the occasional rains to sustain themselves during the coming dry months.
Blooming Monstrose Apple Cactus in Neighbor's Front Yard
Arizona's Sonoran Desert is Awash in Flowers in Springtime
Beginning about April and continuing to the end of June the numerous varieties of native cacti are awash with beautiful flowers.
From the giant Saguaros, which are found only in an area of desert that encompasses much of the Southwestern part of Arizona and spills over into neighboring northern Mexico and Southeastern California, to the tiny Hedgehog cacti are all decked out with beautiful flowers.
My wife and I enjoy spending weekends in the Spring hiking through nearby Saguaro National Park West and other nearby open desert areas photographing the cacti in bloom especially the Saguaros which my wife focuses on almost exclusively.
The flowers of these cacti only bloom for a day (in a few cases, like the nocturnal Peruvian Apple Cactus, bloom for just one night), with the bud opening as the sun rises in the morning and then withering and dying in late afternoon and evening. During the brief time they are open numerous birds and insects busy themselves feasting on the sweet nectar of the flowers and in the process spread the pollen that clings to them as they burrow into the flowers from plant to plant.
Early Morning Bloom at Top of Monstrose Apple Cactus
This Beautiful Cactus is in My Neighborhood
At the end of the day the flowers wilt and die However, since the individual cacti produce numerous buds they will have new flowers opening almost daily for a month or more.
While Arizona is home to over a hundred species of native cacti which grows both in the wild and in peoples’ yards and gardens, these are not the only flowering cacti in Arizona. So, in addition to driving out to Saguaro National Park and other nearby wilderness areas to take pictures of cacti in bloom, I have also, on my way to the mailbox down the street, been photographing the gorgeous flowers on a cacti growing in a pot in a neighbor’s front yard.
The pot and cactus together stand about 6 feet high. There are numerous species and subspecies of cacti in the world and, in some cases one or more species of cacti will look about the same with only slight differences between them.
Apple Cactus Bud About to Burst into Bloom
Monstorose Apple Cactus is Native to South America
After some image searching on the Internet this cactus appeared to be either a Cereus repandus popularly known as a Peruvian Apple Cactus or a Cereus repandus f. monstrosa popularly known as a Monstrose Apple Cactus.
The Cereus repandus Peruvian Apple Cactus that I am familiar with is a night blooming cactus while the blooms on the cactus in this article have been in full bloom from morning until late afternoon.
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Like the Peruvian Apple Cactus, this cactus is not native to Arizona or the United States. Instead it is a South American cactus which is available from local garden stores and, like rosebushes and other garden plants could have been modified through breeding to make it more appealing to gardeners.
After its Day of Glory the Flower on the Apple Cactus Withers and Dies
Whatever its Name The Flower of This Cactus is Spectacular
Whatever its background and story, there is no question that the flowers that this Cereus repandus f. Monstrosa or Monstrose Apple Cactus as it is commonly known, produces in the spring are spectacular.
Although each flower only blooms for one day, the plant itself produces numerous buds that mature and bloom over the course of a month providing many opportunities to view and photograph the flowers.
Photographing the Monstrose Apple Cactus is a Joy
© 2018 Chuck Nugent
Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on June 05, 2018:
John - thanks for visiting and for your comments.
You are right about the saguaros as they are literally covered in flowers. My wife and I visited Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument this past Sunday and, while we saw and got some good pictures of the flowers on the Organ Pipe cacti it was the saguaros that were covered in blooming flowers. Part of the reason for seeing so few Organ Pipe flowers is the fact that the Organ Pipe cacti bloom at night and by 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning all of their blossoms have withered and died while the Saguaro flowers open up starting a little before sunrise and don't begin to wither until late afternoon and early evening.
Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on June 05, 2018:
Peggy - thanks for your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the Hub.
The winter rains are the key and we apparently had sufficient rain this past winter to get an abundance of flowers. The saguaro this spring are literally covered with blossoms and the other species of cacti are also blooming in abundance. It has been a good spring for photographing flowers.
Thanks again for your comments
John R Wilsdon from Superior, Arizona on June 04, 2018:
The Monstrose Apple Cactus is certainly beautiful. I notice in my area that the buds on the saguaro cactus are getting pretty big. They are topping all of the saguaros - we should have a beautiful summer blooming season.
Enjoyed the hub and the great photos. Thanks.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 03, 2018:
That cactus blossom is a beauty. Glad that you captured your neighbors cactus blossoms when they were at their peak. Spring is a beautiful time in the desert if adequate rain has occurred to spur on those spring blooming plants.