Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona – Organ pipes with sweet fruit

There are some short hiking trails in the park. The best one is the two kilometres long (1.2 mi) Desert View Trail leading up to a hill from where we do not only have a beautiful overview over the cacti landscape but far into Mexico as well. Trailhead is the campground. The saguaros bloom along the 21 mi long Ajo Mountain Drive (gravel, no big RVs), which winds through the desert-like cacti scenery at the edge of the rugged Ajo Mountains. Their cream-white blossoms open at night and are pollinated by bats. They close the nectar filling station only around midday to give bees and birds the opportunity to participate in the pollination. Besides different cacti and bushes there is a pretty arch in the mountains.

Although it is not even in the park the predominant plant species, there are organ pipe cacti everywhere that helped the park to get its name. From a stem at the basis several thick arms grow a few metres high. They develop round purple fruits that ripen in July, which are juicy and edible. Sometimes you can find them in a supermarket called pithaya. Organ pipe cacti grow in the United States only within a radius of 80 mi / 130 km around the national monument; they occur more often in Mexico.

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