Sunday, July 16, 2017

Where Did All The Saguaro Fruit Go in 2017?

      We have been watching and photographing saguaro flowers and fruit for upwards of four decades.  The beautiful flowers of April and May bring life sustaining fruits in June for a multitude of desert animals - birds, deer, javelin, ground squirrels and more.  The saguaro fruit becomes a vital food source during the driest part of the Sonoran Desert year and a vital supply of nourishment before the monsoon rains return each summer. 
    But something happened this year, the summer of 2017 - there were many saguaro flowers but almost none of the flowers we always watch produced fruit.  We have never seen such a fruitless year in all our years of saguaro watching. The following three pictures are of the same saguaro during the month of June in 2012, 2016 and 2017.  This cactus that for many years was an abundance of food and moisture, was totally fruitless this year.  None, none at all!  The flowers were present but no fruit develop - why?  Were there no pollinators this year like bats and bees?  We certainly had an abundance of winter rains, but no saguaro fruit.  We have never seen such a fruitless year and we have no idea why.  Do you?  Where did all the saguaro fruit go in 2017?

Our Saguaro full of fruits on June 29, 2012 while looking east.  Double-slick to enlarge.

Our Saguaro full of fruits on June 26, 2016 while looking east

Our same cactus, this time looking west, on June 30, 2017 with not one fruit!  What happened this year?

What a saguaro fruit looks like when totally open - so much food for so many animals.