Wednesday, January 14, 2009


You know you're living in the Southwest when your son says "Look at the cactus!" and you have to play 20 questions to figure out which one he's talking about. "The little, short round one? The fuzzy-looking one? The tall one that has arms?"

Here are our favorites:
  • Barrel - the 'short round ones' are low enough that the kids can see them well. They have pretty yellow-y orange flowers on them. They do have vicious fishhook spines on them though, so the 'no touch' rule for cacti is especially important.
  • Cholla - the 'fuzzy' ones come in 'teddy bear' and 'jumping' varieties. Pieces can drop off, dry out, and roll away from the main plant, so these are cacti you have to watch out for while taking walks. And don't be fooled by the 'fuzzy' appearance; the spines are barbed and very difficult to remove one you've been impaled.
  • Ocotillo - the 'long stick-y' cacti are my favorite. They have beautiful red flowers on top of clusters of long 'wands' of cactus pieces. It's featured in Sarah's shadowbox project.
  • Organ Pipe - lots of pipe-sized columns just make a cool-looking cactus.
  • Prickly Pear - the 'round' one is another favorite. They look cool with their round plate-like segments, they have pretty flowers, and get dark purple fruits that you can use to make jam!
  • Saguaro - the 'tall one with arms' is the quintessential cactus. It's probably the first one you'd picture. I had to snicker when they show 'Phoenix' in the Twilight movie...with fake cacti.
And while we're on Twilight (when am I not?)'s a creosote bush. It's not a cactus, but it is a common desert plant. I need to try the 'rain simulation' experiment. I love the smell of rain!

In case you were wondering, my son was pointing out a saguaro.


Holly K said...

You've never done that? I never quite believe it's raining unless there's a hint of creosote in the air.

Jenni said...

Octillo is my favorite, too. I miss them. Pipe cleaners? Genius!

Alisha said...

That is hilarious! It just is. Simon Says touch the cactus. Ahh! DON'T DO THAT! Simon didn't say which cactus. Stop. Stop now. Step away slowly. I meant for you to touch the toy cactus, not all the others around you. Ahh. Simon didn't say which one. Stop ...

Queen Shannon said...

Holly: I've smelled it when it's raining, but I've never made the bush itself smell like rain when it's not.

Alisha: Hee. Yeah, there are places where it makes me very nervous just to walk around, much less let the kids free to run around.