Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~ Albert Einstein
Many people mistakenly think that the desert is a dry wasteland, harsh and unforgiving. Some parts of the desert are indeed dangerous and one should be cautious when traveling through the desert. However, from my perspective, the desert has a very real breathtaking raw beauty. Shooting in the desert, you have many subjects to choose from. Whatever I choose for a project, I want to know more about it, not just how it looks visually. I want to know what its place is in the world, how does it relate to me, why is it here?
The prickly pear cactus has the largest example of bee cactus flowers. There are 90 different species recorded. Here is an image where the plant is ready to bloom. These flower blooms are called “pears” and are the fruit of the plant. They sprout from the leaves of the plant are range color from yellow-green to deep red or purple. They can be a diet staple among many indigenous people in the Southwestern United States and Mexico but are also used as a medicinal treatment for swelling and rheumatism. They can be eaten raw or dried.
The fruits are packed with dietary fiber (a form of carbohydrate found in plants, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains). Fiber contributes to helps prevent constipation and is linked to lower cholesterol levels, decreased risk of heart disease and stroke, and improved glucose tolerance.
But, for photography’s sake, we need to take a look at the beauty, form, and color of cacti. Just like elsewhere in the country, Spring is the best time for wildflower photography. Starting in early March, you can hike the trails and see masses of yellow, gold, and orange for as far as your eyes can see.
In order to truly appreciate the beauty of cactus flowers here in the Sonoran Desert, you need to also appreciate the pollinators upon which the cacti are very much dependent. For example, bees. There are many kinds of bees that live in the desert. Because the cacti need bees and other pollinators, they have evolved with two types of flowers to accommodate the pollinators. There are open bowl-shaped blooms and then flat daisy-like flowers. There are tiny bees and giant bumble bees with all different sizes in between. We also have hawkmoths, bats, and hummingbirds playing a minor role compared to medium-sized and large bees.
We have many types of bees in the area — Tucson alone has about 1,000 species of bees — and it may surprise you to find that about 99% of these bee types are solitary. This means each female builds a separate nest which contains the cells for her own offspring. Even though they are solitary, they play very important roles in pollinating the plants of our area.
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Wishing you all the best,