Another couple photographs and a write-up from Eric La Fountaine today – thanks again, Eric!
This cactus, with alternating rings of pink/red on its stem was an intriguing find on a hike with friends during winter holiday in Tucson. No one was quite sure what it was. When I showed the photo to UBC Botanical Garden’s Curator of Collections, Douglas Justice, he returned from his office in minutes with a name and description that matched. The species is native to the Sonoran Desert in southwestern USA and northwestern Mexico. Plants are generally unbranched and grow 6-30 cm tall. Along the trail we found them in small groups of solitary stems. The rainbow hedgehog cactus can sport some very bright colouration; very nice selections are available commercially.
The Sonoran Desert is not the lifeless wasteland that some might think. It is full of fascinating plants and creatures and can be quite green at times. For a quick description of the desert Blue Planet Biomes has an educational webpage for teachers and students. The Center for Sonoran Studies offers a Natural History Tour of the Region. Information for people wanting to visit the Sonoran Desert National Monument can be found on the US Bureau of Land Management website.