What Is Tall, Spiny and Has 75 Year Old Arms?

 

What Is Tall, Spiny and Has 75 Year Old Arms?

What is tall and  spiny and takes 75 years to develop an arm? Strong hint, it grows mainly in Arizona.

Take a walk in the native Arizona desert and you will know roughly what part of the world you are in. Just look up at the columnar cacti that tower above you and take a guess at the southwestern United States deserts.

There are a few differences between the California low desert and the Sonoran in Arizona. The easterly desert sports a unique mammal unknown in other American states: Javelina, a spiky faced peccary, hoofed mammal that has most folks fooled for a wild pig. Locals say they adore prickly pear and pumpkin (unique Hallowe’en decor courtesy of your local javelina herd). It is their penchant for cacti (always ornamental over local ones, why eat at home?) that draws irritated groans from homeowners when unsightly gaffs in succulent front yard vegetation appears overnight; an unsightly bite at the base of stalwart cacti is their telltale visitor card (http://www.azgfd.gov/w_c/urban_javelina.shtml). Chomp! Chomp! Raise the word “snake” and most Arizonans have a tale about the last time they saw one, most often not more than last season and the location can be as close as the golf course or their backyard. Walk carefully and wave (not whack) a big stick; don’t kill them when a motion warning will suffice these shy, “maligned since the beginning of time” creatures.

One Cholla cacti species (aptly named Teddy Bear, Cylindropuntia bigelovii) has a bad habit of leaping for your footwear or making a move on a more sensitive skin location when on a desert walk. Obviously this plant was named from a distance once those prickly prongs grip onto your skin. Fuzzy looking but impenetrable, that is the desert for you. If you mind the jumping Cholla and watch out for snakes and javelinas (the former is extremely shy and the latter is nocturnal so you have little to fear if you keep common sense on your side), you can’t miss the real treat, the Saguaro cacti ( Carnegiea gigantea,  love that Latin for telling it like it is) – towering, ever watching over you as you make your paces through the prickly, thorny desert world. Walking among these giants, protected by their looming presence, in varied shapes and distortions, lends the Arizona desert an other worldly presence.  All seeing, they are silent protectorates of the fragile (despite its self defense mechanisms, prickles and barbs) environment below.

 

Arizona nature photography
Sonoran Desert Photography Features Saguaro

 

Arizona nature photography
Arizona Sunset with Saguaro Silhouette

 

Arizona nature photography
Backlit Saguaro in the Arizona Desert

 

Arizona nature photography
Teddy-bear Cactus (Cholla) in the Sonoran Desert

 

LEAVE A REPLY

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *