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cactus flowers

The Desert Scene

WHERE THE TANQUE VERDE MOUNTAINS of southeastern Arizona settle gently into the broad lap of the Santa Cruz Valley, topography and climate have collaborated to produce a superlative exhibit of Sonoran Desert vegetation. To complete this outdoor museum, the Rincon Range has added a magnificent island which lifts its green, tree-blanketed crest above the surrounding desert sea. To those who think of a desert as a barren waste of sand devoid of vegetation, Saguaro National Monument will come as a stimulating revelation. Dr. Forrest Shreve, a master student of deserts, defines, one as "an area in which deficient and uncertain rainfall, and its consequences, have made a strong impression on the structure, functions, and behavior of living things."

Saguaro National Monument is of great interest because of its wide range of elevations and resulting variety in plant and animal life. In effect, it is a mountain island surrounded by a desert sea. Its supreme feature, however, is the magnificent stand of saguaros of which Dr. H. L. Shantz, formerly president of the University of Arizona, is quoted as saying, "nowhere in the world is there so fine a stand of the Giant Saguaro as in the area of the Cactus Forest of the monument; it ranks with the great redwoods, not in age and not in mass of vegetation; but certainly in the unique character, and surpasses in variety of form."

Stately saguaros provide a wealth of vistas for the photographer.

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Last Modified: Sat, Nov 4 2006 10:00:00 pm PST

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