Jun 222012

Photo by David Velk —

Cane Cholla, Cylindropuntia spinosior, was in full bloom at Petrified Forest National Park last week. More common in southeastern Arizona, the Cane Cholla displays a remarkable indifference to seasonal moisture, typically going into full flower a month before the onset of monsoon season, and often blooming completely out before the arrival of summer rains. Larger than the more abundant Whipple Cholla, fully grown plants can exceed seven feet in height. Sometimes known as Walkingstick Cactus, it can also be found in New Mexico, Chihuahua, and Sonora, at elevations below 6,000 feet. Flower color can vary across its range, but in the park, it most often throws vivid maroon or purple blooms. The striking combination of newly opened flowers clustered among last year’s bright yellow fruit attracts a steady stream of pollinating insects and avid shutterbugs.