Cactus fanatic, field expert, master grower and travel bug Woody Minnich, owner of Cactus Data Plants, visited the area to give a presentation to the Central Arizona Cactus and Succulent Society, and a group of us headed out to the desert around Florence AZ to visit the Echinomastus erectocentrus ssp. acunensis population there. Woody is an interesting guy who really deserves a whole interview, so maybe the next time I'm up in Albuquerque I'll visit with him and get more of his life story. Here's a profile from the Los Angeles Times from about 6 years ago, before Minnich sold most of his collection of outrageously amazing specimen plants, pulled up stakes and moved to Edgewood, NM.
Here he is clowning around with a busted up old umbrella we found in the hot desert:
Ferocactus wislizeni has long, fierce spines out this way:
Along the side road, a young crested saguaro, just beginning to form the fan top:
Some photos of one of my favorite cacti, Echinomastus erectocentrus ssp. acunensis. Some authorities have suggested that this Florence population is somehow intermediate between erectocentrus and johnsonii. Minnich didn't think they were "pure acunensis," in comparison to the plants he had seen from the type locality, Acuna Canyon, within the boundaries of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. I haven't been able to see those plants because that entire area of OPNM is off limits due to the border wars.
A bunch of Cylindropuntia pics, including one that looked like maybe a hybrid.
Sometimes, hiking in the Arizona deserts, you find odd stuff. Like a teddy bear in a giant cactus.
The incredible old county courthouse in Florence, recently renovated:
A brief stop on the way home to visit a very rare, variegated Carnegiea gigantea (saguaro). Even more rare in the wild than crests, variegated saguaros are almost unheard of. I'm not sure why they are not more common; perhaps because they do not photosynthesize enough as seedlings to sustain the mutation into adulthood. Variegated cacti have blotches of dermal and parenchymal regions without chlorophyll.
It's rare for me to go out into these habitats with company. This was a great day, though. There's something about hanging with a group of people who share your odd obsession that makes you feel...something. Even more odd?