Weird Cacti of the Desert

Since moving to Arizona in 1987, I've never ceased to be amazed by the positively funky cacti that occasionally adorn the landscape.

Here's one that looks like it CAME FROM SPACE with its disorganized mass of wildly growing arms. Did you think it was soft and cuddly? This cholla (pronounced 'choy-a') is even called a 'teddy bear' cholla. Don't believe everything you hear. For the thing is anything but cuddly. Fifty percent of it is devoted to its defense system: thorns! Don't ever get near a cholla. Those hundreds of little thorns burrow their way in, but they don't burrow out. In the competition for water in the desert, plants can get 'vicious'. (Seen on side of road heading towards Florence

Sometimes the weirdness even becomes artistic. (Seen at Catalina State Park)

This sahuaro looks like it's had a hard day out in the sun, and is sitting down to rest. (Seen on highway leading to Nogales)

This Sonoran Old Man Cactus is a rare sight. I did find it in the rarefied atmosphere of the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum.

Here's another view of the Cephalocereus alensis, cactaceae: They label 'em at the museum!

This heart-shaped prickly pear cactus pad can be found on the high trail at the Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum.

Oh, yes, we really do love our cacti! Here's Laura and Julia proving TREE HUGGINGS for wimps! ( November 1998, at Picacho Peak)

Julia and Tall Crested Saguaro atTucson Botanical Garden, February 2008

Looking upwards...

Here's a cactus that doesn't 'know' whether it's a tree or a cactus

Close up of its transformation... (found at Tucson Botanical Garden)

©Joan Lansberry
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