Wednesday, April 15, 2009

desert barrel cactus

(Joshua Tree National Park, April, 2009)

Last week William and I went on a morning ranger-guided walk in Joshua Tree National Park. The topic was wildflowers, in bloom right now. The bloom was pretty as always. For a truly spectacular bloom the timing of rainfall and the dispersal of the seeds of the desert plants need to be in exactly the right balance.

Barrel cactus, of the genus ferocactus, which means "fierce or wild cactus," are shaped like barrels or cylinders. Barrels are among the largest cacti of the North American deserts and can grow to be 11 feet tall.
Native Americans boiled and ate the cactus flowers and made tea from them, and used the spines for needles. Cactus candy is also made from the barrel's pulp.

(cactus mother and child?)

(Boyd Deep Canyon, Palm Desert, March, 2008)

More beautiful barrel cactus in Boyd Deep Canyon, a private preserve. Barrels like to grow on hillsides, and were plentiful here.

Walking in the desert, happening upon a burst of pink or red, yellow or purple always amazes me--a desert surprise. Tune in for more wildflowers!

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