Cholla Cactus the Beauty of the Desert

Posted by Diane Neldon on

desert cholla cactus nature photography new mexico albuquerque


Since we are wanderers and gatherers we find beauty and inspiration on our journeys.  The Cholla Cactus was our inspiration.  The cholla (pronounced choy-a) is perhaps the most feared and hated cacti in the southwest desert.  It is also known as the “jumping cactus”.  If you have ever brushed up against one you will know why.   There is also beauty in this plant as well.  With over 20 species many of which has beautiful flowers.  Just look don’t touch.   The living plant also provides food and water for desert livestock and wild animals.  Even the cactus wren builds their homes in the cactus. 

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We learned of this amazing cactus while living in Albuquerque New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment.  It truly is an amazing state.  You have everything from your deserts to mountains, cactus to pines.  There is so much to see and do.  It is filled with amazing people, culture and the most wonderful food.  The only place I have ever been where the big decision at meal time is “red or green?”  At a later date we will post more about this lovely state.

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What is amazing about this cactus, which is the part we use for our jewelry and other forms of art is the skeleton, with a hollow cylinder of regularly spaced holes.  On several occasions we have gone and collected the dried dead skeletons to use.  It takes the perfect piece to use for our jewelry.  This can prove to be quite the adventure as I tend to have some very close calls with the cactus.  One occasion I did scare myself and my daughter as I almost fell into a bush.  We were both wide eyed and decided “we have enough”.  All ended well

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Here's a fun fact.  The cholla cactus have these very interesting nodules.  All kinds of earring designs flowing through my head.  If you look very closely at the picture on the left, even though there are no big stickers on these oh so very cool shaped nodule that would make some very cool earrings, there are in fact millions of tiny hairs that feel like tiny shards of glass slicing you everywhere. There will be no earrings.  Unless when they are dried out...we'll have to see, one day.

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