Though you may not recognize it, this is the stately saguaro cactus. You know… that tall cactus with the arms which comes to mind when you think Arizona (or old John Wayne movies.) Normally the blossoms are at the tops of the arms and main trunk so they are many feet off the ground. From the ground you can see they are white, but that’s about it – typically the only way you would see this view of the flower is if you’re somehow above the cactus… very rare for humans.
Sometimes you’ll see a saguaro with a deformed arm which curls down, but since the cactus is in blossom for only a short while your timing would need to be just right to see the flowers. I’d like to brag that in order to get this shot I had to carefully stake out this rare specimen of saguaro greatness, located many miles into the remote desert, but I must confess it’s located just around the corner from our house in someone’s front yard. We ride our bikes past it all the time and I couldn’t resist coming back with my camera when I saw these beauties.
As you can see, like many plants they have clusters of flowers which bloom sequentially – birds and insects love them. In the larger image you can see ants on the blooms, and in the bigger-yet version you can count their little legs. Humans love the blossoms too… native indians traditionally harvest the ripe fruit (after the blossoms are done) and process it into wine, jam, and other preserves. In any event, these large blossoms are a fitting complement to the giants which produce them!