- Specie: Cholla Cactus (Cylindropuntia fulgida)
- Location: Joshua Tree National Park
Ok, one last post from my trip into the dessert in Southern California – the Cactus Garden inside JTNP!
in the middle of the park is a garden, full of Cholla Cacti. Each individual cactus is not that special. They grow all over the park amidst the other dessert plants,.such as the Joshua Trees, the Desert Ironwoods, Smoke Trees, and the Blue Palo Verde.
But right about the middle of the Park, where the high desert meets the lower desert, the cacti gather, in huge numbers, blanketing the ground as far as the eye can see.
The view is surreal. if the desert brings up notions of an alien planet, the Cactus Garden is its forests, complete with the over 40°C temperature, as well as the imminent dangers!
In fact, the Cholla Cactus is also known as the Jumping Cholla, and have been documented to actually ‘attack’ people. The plant grows small, mothball-like appendages that detaches at the slightest touch. This is likely how they spread and colonise the terrain, but with they sharp spines, equipped with microscopic barbs, the danger and pain level is set at extreme.
We did the short hike, I think it was about 200 metre, which led us among the cacti before circling back out. It was wondrous and eerie at the same time, something you probably won’t want to do at night.
Incidentally, the Cholla Cactus’ name sounds very very much like Cahuilla, a tribe of Native Americans that lived in these lands before the founding of present day America. According to descriptions of their philosophy, they were a lovely people that believe there is spirit in every thing in nature – really very Zen. Oh, they also thought the desert was a huge supermarket where they can go shopping for food and other useful things like tools.