Monday, March 19, 2018

Flights of Cactus Fancy at the Desert Botanical Garden

Yes, one of the reasons why I love going to the Desert Botanical Garden here in the Phoenix metropolitan area is flowers. I love when all the flowers are blooming. But there's another reason: I also love the garden's vast variety of cacti, and I've discovered that looking at them is one way to exercise my imagination.

For example, no two saguaros are the same, and I've walked (or jolted along in the Jeep) through stands of these mighty cacti and found myself inventing one story after another. I remember a cactus that looked as though it was wearing a Viking helmet. Two that looked like they were having a "High Noon" shootout on Main Street. Two more that looked as though one were being held at gunpoint by the other. And on and on and on. A cactus can provoke a good story.

I'll be going to the Desert Botanical Garden at the end of the week, hoping to see hundreds of cactus blossoms, but I thought I'd share some non-blooming photos for you. Many are best viewed in their original sizes. Click on any one of them, and a new window will open automatically in order for you to see them all in more detail.

Enjoy-- and stay away from those spines!

Chainfruit Cholla

This Medusa-like cactus above is a huge chainfruit cholla. Those little segments at the ends of the arms fall off one by one and get carried away by birds and other critters or washed away in thunderstorms. That's how they propagate. And those segments are covered with tiny-- almost invisible-- thorns that are superstars at getting under a person's skin. Of course, I don't know how I know that... (I can still be like a little kid. I pick strange things up. I just don't put them in my mouth.)

Teddy Bear Cholla

Someone with a twisted sense of humor named the Teddy Bear Cholla. Those thorns are not to be messed with. I know someone who, years ago, was bucked off his horse and fell crotch first in a teddy bear cholla, and all I'm going to say is that-- eventually-- he was back to normal, although he has an abiding hatred of any type of cactus.

I don't remember the official name, but I call this the Polka Dot Prickly Pear. I wonder why...

I always think of plants like this as Bedrock plants because they remind me of the trees and flowers on one of my favorite childhood shows, "The Flintstones."

The various structures of cacti and succulents are fascinating. Doesn't this look as though it belongs on a coral reef in the sea?

This prickly pear grows up in columns. I don't know why it's called a Tulip Prickly Pear.

The colors of this cactus & the patterns of its thorns remind me of the embroidery stitches my great-grandmother used on the crazy quilt she made.

This may be a Crested Whortleberry, but I think it looks like Hollywood is inventing a new line of aliens. I can see faces. Can you?

Awww-- a baby alien, er... Crested Whortleberry!

Ruffles (to the left), fans & ridges

Harry & Vicky: two Old Man cacti in the center with white-edged Queen Victoria agaves at their bases.

The most anti-social cactus I have ever seen. I wish it had a nameplate so I knew what it was. Definitely NOT for Christmas lights!

Did any of these tickle your imagination? Or am I the only weirdo in here? Inquiring minds would love to know!


  1. Wow! These are gorgeous, Cathy! People who haven't spent time in the desert may not be aware of how many different varieties of cacti there are, but there are. And they are lovely, aren't they? Thanks for sharing.

  2. I do love your pictures of the cacti. And have loved my visits to the Desert Botanical Garden. We have some of those varieties here, but not all. I think that last one looks like 'Cousin It' - a bit anyway. Maybe with disheveled hair. LOL

    1. I think it looks like Cousin It, too. I decided not to say anything to see if anyone else would notice the resemblance. LOL

  3. Thanks for the lovely photos. I agree that the cacti are very interesting and some are beautiful.

    Can't wait for the flower photos. But do your allergies act up from cactus flowers? Curious minds want to know.

    1. Cactus pollen doesn't bother me even one little bit, I'm happy to say.


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