A Saguaro With A Skin Condition?


When people think of the desert southwest, images of snakes, tumbleweed and of course, the iconic Saguaro cactus come to mind.

It really is an amazing cactus.  I remember the first time I saw them…..I was driving along the highway from California into Arizona and as soon as we crossed the border, there they were.  They almost do not look real, but believe me they are.  And they do hurt if you happen to get to close to one of their spines…I know this from personal experience.

Desert Southwest

Desert Southwest

What happened was that I was not careful enough with some young saguaro cacti that I had in my plant nursery and pricked my thumb – I confess that I am somewhat clumsy.  But in my line of work as a horticulturist, this had happened countless times with no ill effects.  

Well, a couple of days later, my thumb was getting huge and very sore.  It was hard to even use my hand.  We were visiting my parents in Los Angeles and so my husband took me to the ER, where I was put on antibiotics.  To be honest, I felt rather stupid having to take pills for such a little thing.  But, cacti spines can carry some harmful bacteria, so it is wise to be careful around them.

If you have driven around the desert lately, you may have notice little bumps covering the tops of many saguaro cacti.  Now, initially you may think it looks like they are suffering from a case of bad acne.

Desert Southwest

But, these bumps are not a cacti’s version of pimples.  Actually these bumps are harboring a beautiful surprise….flowers!

In just a week or two, saguaros everywhere will be covered with beautiful, large white flowers.

I can’t wait to share them with you….

**We are celebrating our son’s 8th birthday today at the park and enjoying the beautiful weather.  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and are able to spend some time outdoors.  

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
14 replies
  1. Kyna
    Kyna says:

    Happy birthday to your son! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Those cacti are AWESOME. I'd love to see some in person..I'd feel like I was in an old western movie lol. I can't wait to see the pics of the flowers!

  2. Tatyana@MySecretGarden
    Tatyana@MySecretGarden says:

    Happy Birthday to your boy! As my boys say, It's cool to be eight!
    I think these plants look like sculptures. I love them. I'll tell my boys about your experience, they need to know (they always want to touch it!).

  3. Hocking Hills Gardener
    Hocking Hills Gardener says:

    As I have admitted to you I was one of those people who thought the desert was all sand,brown, hot, and snakes but you have shown me how beautiful it can be with a whole assortment of beautiful plants.I think I just saw too many movies showing the dangers LOL! It is amazing to see something you associate as a desert icon with painful pricks show a beautiful side with big blooms just to throw your thinking all wrong. LOL! I hope you show some pictures when they bloom.

  4. Rosie@leavesnbloom
    Rosie@leavesnbloom says:

    These are what I once thought covered the desert in the USA until I discovered your blog Noelle. Now I know different!

    I can't wait to see the flowers from those – I hope some of them are quite low down so that you can take a few macro shots of them.

    Have a great weekend – we are experiencing the warmest day of the year here and my eldest is home for the weekend whom I don't see very often.

  5. Rosey
    Rosey says:

    I LOVE cacti flowers. Cannot wait to see these! I am so naive… I really thought they were some disease at first.

  6. villager
    villager says:

    In all my visits to the SW, I have yet to see the cacti in bloom. The saguaro are amazing in any season, but I imagine they are truly wonderful when in bloom.

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