Happy springtime, Tucson! 🌼
🎵 The blooms are back in town, the blooms are back in town. 🎵
The stunning saguaro blooms, featuring soft white petals and a pastel yellow center, can now be found sitting atop saguaros around Tucson.
Saguaro blooms’ peak blooming season starts around this time and goes through June, according to Grace Stoner, a horticulturist at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
Stoner calls the saguaro blooming season “a cultural experience every summer.”
Since cacti store water extremely well, the saguaros don’t rely on rainfall as much as other local plants do for a successful blooming season.
“Water shouldn't really affect their blooming, but it is limited by freezes. So if the previous winter has been particularly intense and there have been multiple freeze events, you might have fewer sort of blooms the following summer,” Stoner says. “But other than that, it's like any other plant just (relying on) daylight hours and temperature.”
That means we should have an “average” blooming season this year, according to Stoner.
Although saguaros can produce many blooms, the individual flowers have a super short lifespan of one day.
“They'll have a series of blooms on them for months. It's just each flower itself will open for a period of one day,” Stoner says.
The flowers will typically bloom at dusk or later and exist until the following day when they wither away. During a saguaro's bloom, the flower could be pollinated by many Sonoran Desert creatures including bats, doves and bees.
“Once a saguaro flower has been pollinated, it matures into fruit that splits open when ripened — revealing bright red pulp,” #ThisIsTucson wrote in 2020. “Each piece of fruit contains about 2,000 small black seeds, according to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.”
This year, you can find saguaro blooms at places like Gates Pass, where Stoner says they have been blooming for the last few weeks, and other places like Saguaro National Park East and the Douglas Spring Trail. We've also spotted saguaro blossoms in local neighborhoods.
“Get out and enjoy them,” Stoner says. “Because (sometimes) you just forget to look for them because it's so hot and you're like, ‘I don't want to go outside,’ you know, but it's such a treat to be able to see in this time of the year, so just enjoy them.”
For more information about saguaro blooms, check out the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum’s website.