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The Superstition Mountains take a back seat today as this cute fuzzy cholla cactus is front and center. Of course this is not teddy bear cute and fuzzy you want to give a hug to.
The Superstition Mountains
Saguaro cactus are kind of known as the iconic symbol of the southwest. With their outstretched arms and sheer size they deserve that status. Heck they have to reach 70 years old before they grow their first arm. So these “old men” of the desert have been around for awhile. And with their prickly skin you don’t want to get too close to one.
However, I will argue the point that the cholla is one of the bad boys of the desert when it comes to prickly skin. They are nicknamed “jumping cholla” due to their seeming ability to jump on you even when you are near them. The spines are as sharp as a needle and will easily penetrate clothing should you brush up against one. I’ve been jabbed more than once and it is painful.
What really makes getting stabbed painful is the moisture in your skin will cause the spine to curve slightly once it is lodged. This creates a slight fish hook effect making it even more difficult to remove them. On top of that it it is usually a cluster of them that will break off so grabbing at one means you are grabbing at several. Talk about brutal!
Given its aggressive structure you would think these nasty beasts would serve no real purpose. Mother Nature has a way of balancing life, even in the southwest desert. The cactus wren are able to navigate around the sharp spines and build nests in the cholla. This gives them a pretty safe home from most predators.
The image above was shot with my newest camera, the Fuji x100s. I continue to be amazed by the picture quality of such a small form factor. It is now traveling with me on a daily basis.
Until next time…