Carousing with Cacti in Anza-Borrego

Wolf’s Cholla, Cylindropuntia wolfii

I’ve been posting about the amazing desert sunflowers and dandelions we saw on our wildflowerpalooza trip to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park back in March 2019, but being a desert and all you may have wondered if we were just going to ignore our stabby friends the cacti. We could never do that. These first pics are all from the main visitor center just outside of Borrego Springs. Matti painstakingly labeled them on flickr (something I usually do, or used to do) and I figured out a bunch of his ID’s were wrong as I was putting this together and proceeded to get mad at him for spreading cactus misinformation online. This blog may make you think I’m some sort of walking encyclopedia of plant names, but I rely heavily on the internet to go back and figure things out. I think I straightened out the names, but feel free to let me know if they’re not. Love the orangey-red flower of this first cholla!

Teddy Bear Cholla, Cylindropuntia bigelovii v. bigelovii

Here we have the polyamorous cholla, Cylindropuntia bigelovii . I’m joking and never watched Big Love since we don’t have HBO (I’d probably love it). I HAVE watched lots of Sister Wives, but recently got rid of my ability to watch Bravo and TLC shows, so I can’t watch that crap anymore. If I could I would. In all fairness I’ll probably binge watch them all this winter in Wisconsin. I AM really missing Top Chef as it is not crap (love you Padma), and I’m afraid I’m going to miss out on potential new Backyard Envy episodes. Love those folks, too.

Beavertail Cactus, Opuntia basilaris v. basilaris
Ocotillo, Fouquieria splendens ssp splendens

I had no idea what this crazy not-a-cactus thing we saw blooming all over the place was. It made me feel lame since it’s so cool, but it was easy to find online. When not all green and flowery these guys look like a bunch of dead, thorny sticks. Octotillo is Spanish for “little torch” which makes sense. Apparently one of their uses is as a “living fence” which is pretty much any of the plants pictured on this page. I used to joke that was going to start a security garden company that strategically plants Agaves and other pokey plants to keep people and maybe even fire out in an attractive manner.

Diamond or Pencil Cholla, Cylindropuntia ramosissima

Remember how I mentioned Matti misnaming cacti? He had this cool guy above named the same as the very first picture. Neither were correct, but I’m not bitter about it or anything. Diamond cholla would most definitely make a great security fence option as the spines on it look like they could take out an eye, plus it’s lovely flowers will attract bees and butterflies.

Zoe with a California Barrel Cactus on Cactus Loop Trail, Ferocactus cylindraceus

When I think of barrel cactus I think of the masses of them at Huntington Gardens or the Getty, but these barrels are different and can grow up to ten feet tall. This pic and the next ones were taken just north of the Tamarisk Campground on the Cactus Loop Trail. It’s a short little hike filled with tons of cacti and desert poppies that’s not too far from Borrego Springs.

Bigelow’s Monkeyflower, Mimulus bigelovii

The Cactus Loop Trail was not all cacti and pokey plants. I was excited to see this desert Mimulus that appears to also have a lot of love based on it’s Latin name.

Hedgehog Cactus, Echinocereus engelmannii
Cactus Loop Trail

Hooray for cactus!

2 thoughts on “Carousing with Cacti in Anza-Borrego

  1. So good to hear from FOF again! And thanks for the reminder for the Cactus Loop Trail. Zoe is huge, and you’re moving back to Wisconsin! Please keep writing!

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