With a population of over a half million people, there is definitely no shortage of portraits to be painted in Tucson, Arizona. Even with a burgeoning number of inhabitants, to a non-desert dweller, I was drawn (literally) to create portraits of the other population in Tucson, the cacti!
The majestic saguaro cactus is hard to miss around town. Not only are they quite tall (some can grow to be over 70 feet tall), but they also could easily hold the title for most recognizable icon of the Wild West. Ironically they do not grow throughout the West, but Tucson is lucky to be one of the few regions it thrives. In fact, it is so prevalent in the area, there is even a park dedicated to them, Saguaro National Park. The portrait in front of the saguaros is a type of barrel cactus known as either the golden barrel cactus, or mother-in-law’s cushion. The bright yellow spines and top offer a splash of color to the desert landscape.
Another popular inhabitant of Tucson is the opuntia, or prickly pear cactus. You may see this character baring fruit (a red ball on top of a pad), have blooming flowers, or sport a blushing shade of pink, like the portrait above. The prickly pear is also well known in the culinary scene throughout Tucson, Western US and Mexico.
Here’s one more portrait of a slightly different barrel cactus. He stood much taller than his golden friend, and although riddled with spines, they looked just slightly more forgiving. This specific cactus was ready to bloom flowers on the top.
Unfortunately, I was not able to capture nearly all the different portraits of cacti in Tucson as I’d hoped. What really fascinates me is the personality that each cactus portrays, especially the saguaro cacti with their arms pointing and bending in all different directions. I guess I’ll just have to wait for another visit to capture those characters!