Rus Articles Journal

What grows in the desert Sonora? Rare cactuses of

Are in the desert Sonora corners where very rare cactuses grow. For example, on Hugo - the West of the State of Arizona, almost on border with Mexico there is a biospheric reserve which is called the National monument “A cactus - an organ pipe“. There it is possible to see some types of rare cactuses which in Arizona have very limited area of distribution. I invite you to get acquainted with two types of such cactuses which I happened to see in national park.

Stenotsereus Tubera ( of Stenocereus thurberi ), or as it still call, a cactus - an organ pipe , prefers to grow on the southern solar slopes of mountains. The plant is very sensitive to cold weather therefore grows only at the height below 1000 m above sea level.

The cactus has no central trunk. Numerous escapes begin to grow from one point at ground level. The quantity of “branches“ can fluctuate from 5 to 25. In the beginning each escape is slightly bent that “to take a place in the sun“, and then begins to grow vertically up. The adult cactus can reach in height of 7 - 8 meters. You represent how such high wall from pipelike escapes of a stenotsereus majestically looks! Here involuntarily comparison with majestically the pipes of old church body rising up occurs …

Each tube of a cactus with a diameter of 15 cm has from 12 to 15 deep edges. On them bunches on 7 - 10 pieces prickles settle down. They have brown color at young plants and become gray at adults. Stalks continue to grow, and each new vegetative period is noted by a weak banner around a tube trunk. The period of the largest growth falls on April-June. The adult cactus has age about 150 years.

Only adult stenotsereusa begin to blossom. Flower buds are formed on the end of stalks. Time of blossoming of a cactus from May to June. Big white flowers with a pinkish kayemochka have the size to 8 cm on each side. They open only at night and are closed in a tubule before sunrise. Flowers of a cactus are pollinated by bats and a humming-bird who find in flowers nectar - the main source of their food. At the same time animals pollinate plants, transferring pollen from a flower to a flower! Stenotsereus has many flower buds which open in different days. That is why time of blossoming of this surprising plant proceeds within many weeks.

Fruits, of the size of a tennis ball, are muricated. Mature fruits dump prickles and reveal. Inside there is a pulp of red color which, on an attestation of eyewitnesses, reminds taste of a water-melon. Cactus fruits for many years served as food for indigenous people of America. They used them for production of jelly and soft drinks and also as medicine.

When seeds of a cactus fall to the earth and the young plant appears, it will be able to grow if the first years lives under any big tree providing it reliable protection against the scorching sun beams. When the cactus took roots enough, it begins to collect strenuously any dropped-out moisture, depriving thereby of water a tree which sheltered it. As a result “the maternal tree“ dies, and the cactus continues to grow. Here such fight for a survival is observed in the desert!

When there are rains, the cactus reserves water in stalks. In edges of a trunk there is a fibrous fabric which absorbs and holds moisture. It helps it to endure the droughty period. When the plant dies, on the place of a cactus as a monument there are his white edges … But on it life of a cactus does not come to an end with

. It passes into the following phase. Since ancient times strong wood edges were used local the inhabitant for construction. They could also be used as ready torches.

The cactus stenotsereus belongs to rare species in the territory of the USA and is protected by the law.

Pakhitsereus Pringla ( of Pachycereus pringlei ), or Kardon , it is possible to meet in the southern part of the desert Sonora, on border with Mexico. This look is a close relative of a cactus saguaro. But, unlike the relative, Kardon is very sensitive to frosts. He is the same long-liver as saguaro, can reach 200 - summer age. The maximum height of a plant is about 20 meters.

Unlike saguaro, pakhitsereus forms new branches - hands quite close to the basis, then they begin to grow vertically, forming a powerful design. The trunk and the main branches have from 11 to 17 vertical edges. Young cactuses are covered with needles, but with age they disappear and do not renew any more. At very old plants of violation begin with the basis: there is “a pith crack“, juicy fabrics begin to collapse. Water cannot come to an internal wood skeleton any more, all plant gradually perishes.

In the spring on Kardon the large number of flower buds on the ends of old branches is formed. Buds reveal, and to our look the flower with large white wax petals which are located in the top part of each branch appears. The flower remains open only 24 hours, but the period of blossoming proceeds within 4 - 5 weeks. Flowers are pollinated by bats at night and bees in day.

Fruits have a reddish shade and are covered with long direct thorns. Fruits of this cactus were used in food by local population. Besides, Kardon`s fruits contain narcotic substances which were long since used by indigenous Americans.

Pakhitsereus has very interesting feature: “the symbiotic relations“ of bacterial and fungal colonies with roots of a plant allow this cactus grow on almost naked rocks, without soil. Symbiotic bacteria can fix nitrogen from air and destroy a stone, extracting from it the nutrients necessary for a cactus. Kardon imports also these useful bacteria to the seeds! Thus the new plant is already programmed on symbiotic type of the relations with bacteria which help it to survive with “Spartan conditions“.

The destiny of this rare species of a cactus is not so simple. Its plantations still can be met in the desert, but many years ago they underwent mass destruction as the territory was necessary for people for cultivation of various cultural plants in the desert Sonora.

Now Pakhitsereus Pringla is under protection of the state. By the way, law-abiding Americans very much make thrifty use of the national property and protect the nature.

So, we got acquainted with rare species of cactuses of the desert Sonora. Both look - very ancient, adapted to existence in extreme conditions of hot climate. The local population long since used these cactuses as the power supply and for other needs.