Organ Pipe Cactus

 
 
By:  Ruth DeVries 
 
 
 
Introduction   

Welcome to the Organ pipe cactus page!  Can you guess why  I am called an organ pipe? Well if you read below it will explain exactly why. Did you know that Cactus's love the rain, when the desert monsoon season arrives in Arizona, cactus's will soak up all the water they can, and store it for the hot sunny days. Please read the interesting information below and figure out why I am called an Organ pipe cactus.

 


 

 

 
                                                                           
WHO AM I?
I am part of the cactus family. I have lots of tall stems that shoot up out of the ground similar to the pipe of an old-fashioned organ, this is why I am called an organ pipe. Cacti are important to animals and people providing food and moisture.   Insects and birds  feed on my stems and flowers.  Birds will also make their nest in the lower parts of my stems.  I can live from 50 to 200 years. 


WHERE DO I LIVE?

The organ pipe cactus lives in the Sonoran desert of southwestern Arizona and part of Mexico and Baja Californa. I can be found on south-facing, hot sunny slopes, at an elevation of at least 1,000 feet and as high as 3,500 feet.  cactus's  are sensitive to frost so they do not grow in valley areas.

 

WHAT DO I EAT?
I have long roots that can grow up to 50 feet long, they are close to the surface in order to collect rain water.  The water is then stored inside my stems.  After a heavy rain my  long stems will swell up. The skin on the cactus is waxy and helps to keep the water in. 
 

WHAT DO I LOOK LIKE?
My stems are tall and resemble the pipes of an old-fashioned organ, they are about 6” in diameter, I can have 5 to 20 stems and can grow to be 25 feet tall.  I am a deep-green color with lavender-white flowers.   I bloom at night.  All cacti produce flowers and have spines or needles for protection. My tall stems have ribs that go all the way to the top, the ribs help to keep it upright.  The organ pipe cactus is the second largest in the U.S., next to the Saguaro cactus.



HOW DO I REPRODUCE?

All cactus reproduce with male and female parts which are all on the same plant. The male part produces pollen, the pollen then will fertilize the egg in the female part of the plant, and this will produce a cactus berry that has small brown seeds inside. Eventually the seeds will be scattered on the ground by wind, rain or birds, so new plants can grow.


FUN FACTS
The fruit on the cactus has provided a food source to Native Americans for centuries. The pulp can be eaten as is or made into jelly, it can even be made into a beverage. But remember to ask a more informed person before eating.  You can visit the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Southern Arizona.


ACTIVITY
Now would you like to have some fun!  Please find the Desert Explorer Mission link at the bottom of the page,  click and print out the packet, you can then draw your favorite desert vegitation, and record interesting facts that you have learned.
YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION AT

Exploring the Southwest Desert USA. Pictures obtained from this website and detailed information for the organ pipe cactus.  http://www.desertusa.com/aug96/du_organpipe.html
 
World Book Encyclopedia -  Gathered general information about the cacti plants. Organ Pipe Cactus - Obtained pictures and gathered interesting facts about the organ pipe cactus.  http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/organ_pipe_cactus.htm
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Ruth DeVries,
Sep 23, 2011, 4:08 PM
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