Monsoon rains beget desert's summer beauty

2013-07-27T00:00:00Z 2013-10-17T16:04:23Z Monsoon rains beget desert's summer beautyDoug Kreutz Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 27, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The wildflowers of spring have long since withered away - but this month's monsoon rains have helped nurture a colorful crop of summer desert blooms.

A spin around a loop drive at Saguaro National Park East on Friday revealed wildflowers in hues ranging from bright yellow to pale lavender.

The almost impossibly pink blooms of the fishhook pincushion cactus added to the floral display.

"Though less well known and less diverse than the spring ones, the summer wildflowers of the Sonoran Desert are equally beautiful," said George Montgomery, curator of botany at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

"The summer rains bring on a great flush of plant growth and flowering," Montgomery said. "And the fruiting is a strong part of animal life cycles - the pollinators, the nesters and the grazers."

Among the flowers in bloom now is desert senna - growing along roads and trails at Saguaro Park and elsewhere in the Tucson area.

They are "especially showy now with the summer rains, and their striking yellow flowers are being pollinated," Montgomery said. "In fact, it takes the bee vibrating its wings while on the flower to cause pollen to fall onto the bee - 'buzz pollination.' "

Adding a touch of subtle beauty to the summer desert landscape are the delicate pale blooms of clustervine.

Other sites where you're likely to find some summer flower color near Tucson:

• Saguaro Park West.

• Sabino Canyon northeast of the city.

• Pima Canyon, Finger Rock Canyon and other canyons of the Catalina Mountains.

"The summer rains bring on a great flush of plant growth and flowering."

George Montgomery,

curator of botany at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at dkreutz@azstarnet.com or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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