What the Heck Is This?

(Image credit: Linda and Dr. Dick Buscher)

This thing is amazingly stiff and waxy to the touch.

One more hint: It lives in the desert.

If you've ever been in the Arizona desert in late May or early June, you might know what this is. If not, see the description and full-size image below.

It's a flower atop a saguaro cactus. They bloom in bunches on mature saguaros and are among a surprisingly wide array of flowering desert plants.

"The stiff, waxy petals of the saguaro cactus flower opens in the late afternoon and remains open for a short 24 hours," according to the photographers, Linda and Dr. Dick Buscher. "During that time desert pollinators, including long nosed bats, visit the magnificent blossom in search of nectar.  The result of this desert-nectar-gathering–feeding-frenzy is the flower’s pollination that will then produce a fruit that contains up to 2,000 seeds."

(Image credit: Linda and Dr. Dick Buscher)

Got a strange or interesting photo related to science, nature or technology? What the Heck, send it to me, and maybe I'll use it. Or follow me on Twitter, or Facebook.

Robert Roy Britt

Robert is an independent health and science journalist and writer based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is a former editor-in-chief of Live Science with over 20 years of experience as a reporter and editor. He has worked on websites such as Space.com and Tom's Guide, and is a contributor on Medium, covering how we age and how to optimize the mind and body through time. He has a journalism degree from Humboldt State University in California.