Saguaro side blooms worried scientists. Here's why they think it happened

By Mark Brodie
Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2022 - 11:24am
Updated: Wednesday, January 26, 2022 - 2:18pm

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ben wilder
Ben Wilder
Ben Wilder

Last spring, Phoenix and Tucson residents saw something unusual on saguaros — the majestic cactus suddenly sprouted side blooms.

Photographers loved it, but it worried scientists, who believed the flowers were a response to intense drought.

So, will it happen again this year?

Ben Wilder, director of the Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill within the Arizona Institutes for Resilience at the University of Arizona, can’t answer that. But The Show did speak with him to learn about what might have caused the blooms and what saguaros might teach us about our climate.

Multiple flowers sprouting on a saguaro cactus
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
Multiple flowers sprouting on a saguaro cactus at a Phoenix home on June 1, 2021.

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