Bloom Watch 2024 Tohono Chul

Bloom Watch #1 | All Hail the Queen

June 5, 2024

All Hail the Queen

The season is turning on the Desert View Trail. Early spring wildflowers have dried and are dropping their seeds, feeding the quail, and becoming part of the seed bank. As they bloom, cacti, shrubs and trees utilize water reserves, and stretch to deep underground rivers to quench their thirst.

Acacias along the wash are covered in little pom-poms that winged creatures visit for nectar and pollen. Saguaros open their buds to the sky and beckon hungry visitors. Leafcutter ants gather fallen yellow blossoms. Green pears grow on the Opuntia. Cactus wrens are busy nesting. There is a ripe crunch underfoot as you walk on the dry earth. Dry fore-summer is here!

What will this season bring for the Queen of the Night, Peniocereus greggii? Several plants that had seemingly disappeared below the surface have reappeared after the long late winter and early spring rains.

The fuzzy white branch tips and buds are the telltale signs of new growth beginning. The Queen is waking up.
Stems grow from the tips. Concentrated spines and fuzz help protect the area where cell division is occurring on a Peniocereus greggii, the night-blooming cereus.

They began to show buds after a spontaneous drizzle that occurred in May. “I think the little bit of humidity is making them push,” said Chris Kibler, Senior Gardener here at Tohono Chul.

They have changed a lot in the last 2 weeks. There is variation in bud size with most between 10mm and 20 mm. They won’t be blooming any time soon. 

Rain, surprise. 
Snowy fruit. 
Bathing in the scent. 
Beetles hide in prickly pear blossoms,  
Goldfinch gather chia seeds. 
Quails hurry, lizards lounge. 
The Queen stretches; her white hair begins to grow.

Bloom Watch is written by Tracey Till, Propagation Coordinator

We are estimating about 3 to 6 weeks away from the big night! 
Stay tuned for weekly updates.

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