Tag Archives: cactus

saguaro down

Despite getting soaked by rain all morning, we had a great hike in the desert yesterday. We noted a few more downed Saguaros. In this case as well as many others, the water logged ground became too soft to hold the rain swelled Saguaros in the strong winds and they were just pushed over.

Fallen Saguaro on Trail 4 – State Trust Land
fallen saguaro

Here’s another gigantic specimen spotted at Rock Knob last weekend. So sad 🙁
fallen saguaro

carrion flower

Here’s one last shot from the Wallace Desert Garden (no relation). Stapelia gigantica flowers
smell like carrion hence the common name. They look a little like starfish on rocks at low tide.


The Wallace Desert Garden is the legacy of H.B. Wallace who offered it up for the study of
desert plants among other things. He has passed away and unfortunately because the 18 acre
garden is in a gated community, it continues to be a struggle to raise money to keep it going.
Check out this link for his bio. He obviously loved the desert.

4 tons of topsoil

When I was cycling, I used to ride up to 200 miles a week. On really long rides, endorphins
kicked in causing a euphoric state of mind. I wondered if I could ever get that feeling again.

I can! It’s called “landscaping”. Digging/lifting/lugging/planting can put me in that same
meditative state which explains why I was actually excited as I watched the dump truck
unloading 4 tons of topsoil. (In case you’re wondering, the endorphins balance out the pain) 🙂

I forgot to get a shot of the full pile but here it is after removing 25 wheel barrel loads.


Front yard piles:


Back yard:


It’s been very hot so progress is slow. For every hour or so of work, I take a half hour of rest.
The last few weeks were spent on contouring ground for better rain runoff and implementing
other water harvesting techniques. I’ve also planted several native shrubs and two trees.

On my breaks during the last few days, I took photos of all the things that are blooming now.

First is the Little Leaf Cordia which has turned out to be a great wildlife attractor!


Yes, Joan...they do look like they're made of tiolet paper :-)
Yes, Joan...they do look like they're made of tiolet paper 🙂

Next is a Golden Barrel bloom. They’re so small that I sometimes miss them.


Then the red Candy Barrel. Only two blooms opened but check out that ring of buds! I’m hoping 🙂

As it turns out, I have 5 of our native Candy Barrel Cactus. I forgot about this one. Yummy.

The prize capture of the day, though, was this precious Pincushion Cactus (Mammillaria).

(Sorry if it took a lot of time to load these images. In hindsight, I should have given you a slideshow. )

happy hearts

This poor cactus has suffered many nips and bites from Javelina. Being non-native, the Javs loved it but it’s now protected in the fenced area and one of those nips caused a heart to form. It and I are now happy 🙂


You might remember this cactus from a post last month about glochids.
Here’s that photo again. Note the chomped off pad in the upper left of the photo.



I noticed a full ring of flower buds of this Mammillaria grahamii list night so I got a shot early this morning. In fact, I see more than one ring so we might be in for a spectacular showing! Mammillaria, aka Pincushion Cactus, bloom a couple of times a year so if you miss the Spring showing, look for them in early fall. Actually, I’ve seen them at all times so just keep an eye out if you know where some are!

Mammillaria close to blooming
Mammillaria close to blooming


If you live near cactus, especially Cholla and Prickly Pear cactus, sooner or later you’re bound to have an encounter with Glochids. Generally, they’re not as painful as spines but unlike spines which you can easily grab and pull out (ouch!), Glochids are tiny and hair-like. Many can be microscopic in size so invariably, you never get them all. Worse is that sometimes they break leaving a little bit under your skin. The irritation can last for weeks and if you’re sensitive, it can end up being quite painful.

I was shoveling a little too close to this Prickly Pear and brushed my hand as I drew back.
I was shoveling a little too close to this Prickly Pear and brushed my hand as I drew back.

Removing glochids:
1. Cover with duct tape and peel off. (I’ve tried this but never again. Although it does remove some of the Glochids, it can hurt as you apply the tape over them and many break off leaving parts under the skin).

2. Use Elmers glue; let it dry an then peel it off. (I loved this idea so I tried it. Have you ever waited for Elmers glue to dry out completely on your skin? You think it’s dry but it never dried completely for me so it was ultimately a waste of time.)

3. Tweezers and a good strong light source. (This is my personal choice. Specifically, I use the thin tweezers that are inside my Swiss Army knife).