National Park Mystery Photo 24: Kinda Spindly, Ain't It?

What the heck is it, and where can you see it?

We don't want to be too revealing with this Mystery Photo, for that just might give it away. But we will tell you it's bigger than a breadbox. More tomorrow for those who have no idea what this might be.

Comments

The top of a deceased saguaro cactus - most probably in Saguaro National Park

Alas, this is no consummate stumper, as Marty has corrected guessed what this is. But to give others a shot, we're gonna sit on his answer for a little while.

Could it be the top of one of the teepee frames along the Big Hole River in the Big Hole National Battlefield Monument?

Good guess, Karyn, but I'm afraid not.

Is this the top of a Saguaro skeleton? Saguaro National Park?

Congrats to Marty and Patti, who both correctly guessed what the photo shows and where it was taken. Tomorrow we'll fill in the details.

I had a feeling. Oh how I do miss the Sonoran Desert!

Doh! I'm going to have to start getting to work earlier on Wednesdays. [In my defense, I got a flat tire on my bike riding in this morning.]

Fun fact about dead Carnegiea gigantea: a couple of weeks after it died, the pH of the corpse was ~8.5 or greater. Cacti use Crassulacean acid to store CO2 that they take up at night (cooler so less water loss) for use in photosynthesis during the day, so they have a huge acid buffering capacity (they're making and then removing lots of acid every 24 hours). When they die the crassulacean acid breaks down rather quickly, but the alkali buffering is more stable. This results in a weird set of fungi on the dead cactus, which are eaten by fruit flies & beetles.

You can see saguaro in Saguro NM and Organ Pipe NM, but also Casa Grande Ruins NM and Tonto NM.