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Organ Pipe Cactus

Stenocereus thurberi

This columnar cactus is the second largest in the U.S. (next to the Saguaro) growing as tall as 23 feet. Instead of having a central stem, however, a cluster of 5 to 20 slender branches grow from a point at ground level and curve gracefully upward.

These water-storing trunks are about 6 inches in diameter and have 12 to 17 deep-green, rounded ribs. The areoles are set close together with 9 or 10 brown, 3/8-inch radial spines that turn gray with age.

Fruits lose their spines at maturity, opening to display an edible red pulp. This fruit has provided a food source to Native Americans for centuries. The pulp can be eaten as is, made into jelly or fermented into a beverage.

Range

In a small area of the Sonoran Desert only from southwestern Arizona to western Sonora, Mexico. Alos see Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Habitat

On south-facing, hot, sunny slopes from 1,000 to 3,500 feet.


Flowers

Lavender-white flowers, 2-1/2 inches long, bloom at night, laterally near the apex of the stems, May through July.






Desert Plant & Wildflower Index
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument


 

Photo tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography.

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