In Search of the World’s Largest Cactus in Cabo!

There are some 1750 known cactus varieties (Cactaceae family) in the world. Most are native to North and South America with few species native to Africa, Madagascar and Sri Lanka and some Islands in the Indian Ocean. Hundreds of cacti are native to the Sonora and Baja deserts of NW Mexico and the US southwest.

Recently, I took a trip to Cabo San Lucas on the southern tip of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. From Cabo, I travelled north about 40 or 50 miles along the coast for some fun in the desert. To my excitement, there were cactus everywhere. To this rusty, rain-drenched Pacific Northwest US web-toed native and professional tree-loving arborists, the unique novelty of an arid desert that receives only a couple of inches of rain per year and where forests of cacti abound stirs my flora passions and unquenchable curiosities to new highs.

Wherever I travel around America and the world, I’m always in search of the biggest and most unique tree species the planet has to offer. Well, I found one in Baja Sur California—the giant cardon or elephant cactus.

The largest cactus in the world next to the Saguaro cactus is the Mexican giant cardon or elephant cactus found in NW Mexico in the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur and Sonora. The maximum recorded height of the cardon cactus is 63 feet with a foot trunk diameter of more than three feet with several side branches. This cactus is slow growing and can live for hundreds of years and may weigh up to 25 tons. The saguaro cactus native to Mexico, California and Arizona generally grows to about 40 feet tall, but a few decades ago one blew down that was 78 feet tall. Currently, the tallest saguaro cactus is about 45 feet tall and is located in Arizona. This makes the cardon cactus, in reality, the tallest cactus on earth.

Though the cardon cacti I encountered weren’t the tallest giants of this species,  many that I saw were still 20 to 30 feet tall.

Here are some close up shots of this beautiful and exotic plant.I encountered in amazement several other varieties of smaller cacti as well.

Some cacti were even in bloom.

Here is the wooden skeleton of a long deceased cactus.

Ever see an aloe vera in full bloom? Neither had I until now.

Okay, looking for cacti wasn’t the only thing my wife and I did on this excursion. Looking at cacti was a means to an end.

Imagine going to Mexico to ride a camel—on the beach no less!

On more camel shot. I grew up on a farm and I love animals. What can I say?

And here’s a final cactus picture. This one is from Maui, Hawaii. Yes, catcus in the desert area of SE Maui just feet from the beach and palm trees. No kidding! Deserts and cactus are not the stereotypical scenes one sees in the picture post cards of Hawaii, to be sure, but I was there a year ago and saw it myself.

This is a non-native naturalized prickly pear cactus that was introduced into Maui in the 1800s apparently as cattle fodder. They get large there—about 20 feet tall.

 

While I was taking this photo I heard and then saw a barking deer nearby. No kidding, a barking deer! I couldn’t believe my ears or eyes. Look up the “barking deer of Maui” online. It’s quite a story!

January in the Garden—A To Do List

YOU can help to make the world a better, a more friendly, loving and beautiful place by tending your spot on this earth that has been given to you—your garden. Here is a to do list to help you to do just that…

Tree and Shrub Care

Fruit tree sanitation. To prevent possible spread of leaf diseases, rake up and remove leaves from around the base of fruit trees. 

Fruit trees. You can be pruning your fruit trees and continue all the way up until February.

Storm proof your larger trees. Checking your trees for hazards and then take the appropriate measures to protect your trees from storm damage. If you’re not sure about the condition of your trees or even what to look for, call Good News Tree Service, Inc. for a free on-site consultation.

Plant or transplant trees and shrubs. After the cold, seasonal rains have started is a good time to plant or transplant ornamental trees and shrubs. Cooler weather means less transplant shock to the plants, and over  the winter and spring, they will have time to begin to acclimate to their new environment before the stress of the next summer season occurs.

Prune your trees and shrubs. This is a good time to start pruning your deciduous trees and shrubs after the leaves have fallen and a tree’s branching structure is clearly visible making pruning easier. If you’re not sure what to do, or how to do it, call Good News Tree Service, Inc. for a consultation, pruning lessons or to have them to the pruning for you.

Prune coast/shore pines (Pinus contorta) and Scotch/Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris). These two pines are especially susceptible to the sequoia pitch moth whose larvae burrow into the tree trunks during the growing season (April through September) causing the trees to exude large amounts of unsightly pitch globules. While this seldom kills the tree, the bleeding of sap is not good for the overall health and vigor of the tree. It is advisable, therefore, not to prune these pine trees during the growing season, since the pruning cuts attract the moth, which then lays eggs on the tree, which hatch into tree-burrowing larvae. Pruning should be done on your pines from November to March.

Large trees: After each major weather event, check your trees for damage such as broken or hanging limbs. If you have concerns or questions about your trees, have an ISA Certified Arborist with an ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (like Good News Tree Service, Inc.) inspect your large trees for damage or the potential of failure due to weak root systems and defects in trunks and branches.

Prune deciduous trees: This is an excellent time of the year to aesthetically prune deciduous, since without the leaves a tree’s branching structure or architecture is easily visible.

Elsewhere in the Garden

Put slug bait around winter flowers.

Plant fruit trees.

Rake and dispose of ornamental tree leaves, or better yet, compost them and then spread the decomposed leaves back onto your shrub beds as a mulch next year.

Mulch your shrub beds. Put a two to three inches of mulch (e.g. bark dust, garden compost or wood chips) around perennials and other plants that might be sensitive to subfreezing weather.  Also, spread a fresh layer of mulch (e.g. bark dust, garden compost or wood chips) on all the bare dirt areas in your yard to prevent soil compaction from rains, to prevent weed growth and to enrich and help to condition your heavy clay soils.

Cut English ivy off of the base of trees. (This can be done any time of the year.)

Feed the birds. Dutifully maintain your bird feeders. As winter comes, birds have a harder time finding food.  Bring life and excitement to your backyard by turning it into a bird sanctuary. The birds will thank you for your generosity by providing you with hours of entertainment, and by eating insect pests that harm your ornamental trees and shrubs. 

Fertilize yellowing lawns.

Trees Benefit Everyone and Everything More Than You Know

Trees are a vital part of every day human quality of life

  • They provide us with shade.
  • They cool our homes.
  • They provide us many products we use daily: Paper, wood, chemicals, oils, resins.
  • Trees promote feelings of well-being and peace among people.
  • The foliage of trees help to mark the changing seasons, thus helping human to mark time.
  • Trees are a place for children to play in, under and around.
  • Because trees can survive for hundreds of years, they serve as property boundary markers, memorials of important historical events. Trees thus help bring people together, to unite people and to help people stay connected to their historical roots.
  • Trees act as gathering places for social activities and events. They can act  as places of unifying people, families, communities and generations.
  • Trees provide visual barriers, create screens, promote privacy, and make separations between divergent and sometimes conflicting elements of society.
  • Trees serve as wind screens and to buffer the impact of storms.
  • Trees increase property value.
  • Trees provide wood for fuel.
  • Trees improve the livability of cities for countless reasons. Trees add visual, emotional and psychological appeal, since few things can compare with the aesthetic impact and seasonal interest that trees offer the urban setting. They provide huge visual appeal to any area and can significantly enhance the design of a streetscape. Trees adds aesthetic beauty to one’s living space and improves the quality of life.

Trees are an essential economic asset for people and they create economic opportunities Continue reading

Did someone shoot your ornamental flowering fruit trees with a shotgun?

Identifying and Treating Flowering Plum, Cherry and Apple Trees Leaf Blights

In the spring and early summer in the Portland and Wilsonville region, do the leaves on your fruiting or ornamental plum, cherry (Prunus spp.) or flowering crab apple (Malus spp.) trees look as if someone was using them for target practice with a shotgun? Are the leaves all peppered with a gazillion small holes? 

Not to worry, your miscreant neighbor doesn’t have a vendetta against either you or your trees. However, an airborne fungal pathogen called coryneum blight or “shothole fungus” is most likely the culprit for the cherry and plum trees. For crabapple trees, a different fungus called apple scab with similar symptoms as coryneum blight is likely the guilty party. 

On the flowering cherry and plum trees, “shothole fungus” (Thyrostroma carpophilum formerly called Wilsonomyces carpophilus) overwinters in dormant infected leaf buds, blossom buds and Continue reading

Amazing Trees—The Unique and the Odd (the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska and more)

Celebrating the beauty and uniqueness of trees. Please enjoy! (All photos by Nathan or Sandi Lawrence)

A 4,500 Year-Old tree Tree Stump. This ancient Sitka spruce relic is located at Beverly Beach State Park on Oregon coast.

Spirit Lake at Mount Saint Helens. Almost 40 years after the 1980 Mount Saint Helens volcanic eruption, Spirit Lake is still covered with floating old growth conifer logs.

“Healed” Tree Stump. In a forest of Douglas fir trees, when a tree is cut down and stump is left, you’ll sometimes find the tree stump healed over. Why is this? This is because all the tree roots are connected—a literal family of trees—and when one is wounded the remaining living trees heal the wound of the cut tree to prevent diseases from entering into the tree family.

New growth is already beginning to form on this “dead” fir stump. Eventually, the top of the stump will be healed over.

A Wysteria “Tree.” This wysteria vine in complete bloom covers this entire 60 foot tall spruce tree near Forest Grove, Oregon.

Ghost Forest, in Neskowin, Oregon. These spruce trees are thousands of years old and landed on the beach when an earthquake occurred and the tree-covered cliffs above slid into the Continue reading

December in the Garden—A To Do List

YOU can help to make the world a better, a more friendly, loving and beautiful place by tending your spot on this earth that has been given to you—your garden. Here is a to do list to help you to do just that…

Tree and Shrub Care

Fruit tree sanitation. To prevent possible spread of leaf diseases, rake up and remove leaves from around the base of fruit trees. 

Fruit trees. You can start pruning your fruit trees and continue all the way up until February.

Storm-proof your larger trees. Checking your trees for hazards and then take the appropriate measures to protect your trees from storm damage. If you’re not sure about the condition of your trees or even what to look for, call Good News Tree Service, Inc. for a free on-site
consultation.

Plant or transplant trees and shrubs. After the cold, seasonal rains have started is a good Continue reading

November in the Garden—A To Do List

YOU can help to make the world a better, a more friendly, loving and beautiful place by tending your spot on this earth that has been given to you—your garden. Here is a to do list to help you to do just that…

Tree and Shrub Care

Fruit tree sanitation. To prevent possible spread of leaf diseases, rake up and remove leaves from around the base of fruit trees. 

Fruit tree pruning. After the leaves drop, begin pruning fruit trees for aesthetics and fruit.

Storm proof your larger trees. Checking your trees for hazards and then take the appropriate measures to protect your trees from storm damage. If you’re not sure about the condition of your trees or even what to look for, call Good News Tree Service, Inc. for a free on-site consultation.

Plant or transplant trees and shrubs. After the cold, seasonal rains have started is a good time to plant or transplant ornamental trees and shrubs. Cooler weather means less transplant shock to the plants, and over  the winter and spring, they will have time to begin to acclimate to their new environment before the stress of the next summer season occurs.

Prune your trees and shrubs. This is a good time to start pruning your deciduous trees and Continue reading

Are your trees hazardous? Are you sure? Here’s how to find out…

Are your trees safe, or are they dangerous, hazardous and at risk of breaking or falling down during the storms, wind, snow and ice that will inevitably pummel the Wilsonville region this winter? 

Trees are a major part of our lives. We love trees! They’re nearly everywhere including where we live, walk, play, drive, work, eat, recreate and go to school. Sometimes we even plan activities around them. We take them for granted because they are big, old and seem so permanent, stable and immovable. Most of the times, trees cause us no problems. However, trees can, at times, become dangerous. If they fall over or break apart, they can cause serious injury or death to humans and animals, and major damage to property.

How do you know if your trees are at risk of blowing over or breaking when the storms come? What are some signs that your trees might be dangerous and hazardous and might become victims to the ravages of winter storms including ice, snow, wind and rain?

Here are some signs that your tree might be a hazard tree: Continue reading

How to “Storm Proof” Your Trees and Shrubs

Are your trees ready for our fall and winter storms? Winds, ice, snow and even rain can cause damaging (and expensive) tree failures. The twisting and torquing force of wind on trees combined with soils super-saturated from rain can cause trees to break or uproot. Ice and snow are heavy, which can put stress on trees, causing them to break apart.

What can you do to prevent the uncontrollable forces of nature from indiscriminately, and without your permission, “pruning” your trees often resulting in damage to property and injury to people not to mention loss of property value due to broken, decimated and just plain ugly trees? If you are in Wilsonville, Oregon or the nearby cities including Tualatin, Canby, Aurora, Hubbard, Sherwood and the surrounding areas, we can help!

Be proactive and have an expert ISA Certified Arborist examine your trees before the winter storms hit the Wilsonville region causing damage to your trees.

Even better, the check up on the health and stability of your trees is absolutely free—without any cost or obligation to you. All you have to do is to call Nathan Lawrence at the Good News Tree Service, Inc. in Wilsonville at (503) 682-9466 to schedule a free consultation and Continue reading

The Hymn of a Ponderosa Pine

 

 The inspiration of this poem and its birth occurred, while meditating next to the  Deschutes River in La Pine, Oregon, during Sukkot (the biblical Feast of Tabernacles) in 2018, while gazing admiringly at the mighty, towering ponderosa pine trees (Pinus ponderosa) that stand as sentinels gracing its banks. At the same time, the words of the biblical First Psalm were floating around in the author’s mind.

By Nathan Lawrence

La Pinus1 ponderosa2 at De Falls3 River waters4;

A weighty5 giant pondering6 heavenly matters.

Rejecting your former blackjack7 past,

Basking now in heaven’s light at last.

Arms and trunks are tanned a bright orange hue8,

With muscular limbs upraised in praise to You9

To the Messiah, the radiant Sun of Righteousness10!

Part 2 Continue reading