Desert Ow-l

Hoo-hoo might this be?

I caught only a glimpse of the “eyes” as I passed but it stopped me mid-step. Then I realized they were scars where two cholla (CHOY-uh) “buds” — actually stem joints — had fallen off.

Chainfruit cholla — so named for the clusters of fruit that hang down — is common on the Sonoran Desert. It’s also known as jumping cholla. For good reason.

The stem buds are so loosely attached they come loose at the slightest touch and you quickly find yourself wearing them. Not good. Best way to remove them is to place a comb between you and the hitchhikers and quickly flip it away.

Alert: If the spines are in your skin this is gonna feel like tooth extraction without freezing. Been there. Done that. Only once.


P.S. Tired of hiking with the same folks? Just aim the cholla buds in their direction. That should solve the problem.

Chainfruit cholla   Cylindropuntia fulgida

2 thoughts on “Desert Ow-l

  1. Love the title. It reminded me that when I was a kid, the word for the sort of experiences you describe was “owie.” I’ve seen other varieties of cholla here in Texas, but not this one. It’s interesting — and that photo is great. If it were an actual owl, I’d say he was entirely secure behind all that spikiness.


    1. Jumping cholla has an amazing range of growth forms … some upright, others tilting like Quixote at who knows what. They’re a favourite for many nesting birds — when I look at where the nests are built I wonder how they can get to them with impaling themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

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