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Monday, August 8, 2011

Death Valley desert

Death Valley National park is a home to several species of cacti. And many of them are the plants that make cactus aficionado very exited.
Dry climate with often winter only precipitation creates the most harsh Mojave desert conditions. Despite that there is a lot of spots in the park where cacti are as abundant as in the picture. At that spot one could see Cylindropuntia echinocarpa, Opuntia basilaris, Echinocactus polycephalius, Echinocereus engelmannii. The pink flower at the picture center belongs to Echinomastus johnsonii. Mammillaria tetrancistra and Sclerocactus polyancistrus are also found in that general area, at higher elevation. As you can see, not that many people can claim success in growing half of the species from this short list. They are not really rare and seeds are easily available, but the commonly accepted 'cactus culture' does not fit these plants due to their deep adaptations needed to thrive in such a harsh place.
The first week of May when I visited that spot was the time to see all of the cacti I found there except Echinocactus in bloom. Echinocactus flowers open in second half of July and August, in the hottest time of the year when no one in right mind will visit the place. But if you do - you will sure not be along. American tourists are of a very tough breed.

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