Seven Natural Wonders of the World Part 3

About the seven natural wonders of the world, wonders found specifically in nature, in this case the world's largest rose tree and cactus.

The 7 Natural Wonders of the World

As for flowering plants, the rose remains the most celebrated of flowers, and the largest living rose tree is a little-known "Lady Banksia" at Tombstone, Ariz. Located in the patio of the Rose Tree Inn Museum at 4th & Tough-nut streets, an unlikely location, this "Lady Banksia" requires some 68 posts and thousands of feet of iron piping to support it. Started from a cutting imported from Scotland in 1884, it has a main trunk measuring 40" thick, stands over 9' high, and covers over 5,380 sq. ft. Its blooms would easily fill a palace ballroom. However, the world's largest flowering plant is a giant Chinese wisteria at Sierra Madre, Calif., that suggests a vast field filled with delicate flowers. Planted in 1892, today it covers almost one acre, has branches surpassing 500' in length, and weighs over 252 tons. Thirty thousand people a year come to see this fabulous plant, which is located near the Los Angeles State and County Arboretum, and which, no matter how depressing the morning headlines, never fails to display its 1 1/2 million blossoms for a full 5 weeks each year.

To view our 7th and final natural wonder of the world, one need travel only to Arizona, where the world's largest cactus is found. Called "apartment houses of the desert" because they provide living quarters for so many bird species, the huge saguaros of the Saguaro National Monument in Arizona's small part of the Sonoran desert justly claim this title. Saguaros often reach a height of 50' before dying. The slender-ribbed plant, which sometimes lives 2 centuries, takes 75 years to develop its 1st blunt branches and years more before it weighs from 6 to 10 tons and resembles a giant candelabra or fingers afire when hit by the sun. It is a wondrous thing that thrives against great odds in the desert, supplying both food and lodging to many animals, as well as to the Papago Indians of the region, who still harvest its fruit for cakes and syrup. During extended dry periods, the saguaro gradually uses up to a ton of stored water and decreases in girth and weight until the next rains, when it swells to its proud dimensions once again.

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