Thanks to Ruth for both today’s write-up and photograph:
Normally, television imitates life. It polishes the edges of life’s reality and makes it seem more glamorous. Well, here is an example of life imitating television, edges and all! I call this the “Homer Cactus” after Homer Simpson. I found this beauty in the Anza-Borrego desert in southern California while hiking with a group of friends. We had a great laugh!
The red barrel cactus, Ferocactus cylindraceus, is found in Arizona, California and northern Mexico at elevations of 600-1500 meters (2000-5000 feet). It is found growing amongst phenomenal species such as Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) in the Mojave desert and amongst the Fouquieria splendens (ocotillo) in the Anza-Borrego and Ocotillo Wells deserts. This species of barrel cactus can tolerate temperatures as low as -7 ºC (20 ºF). Deserts of southwestern USA and northern Mexico often receive massive flash floods and extreme heat. Ferocactus tend to grow slightly tilted toward the south, because of the additional sun exposure. If you are ever lost in the desert without a compass, remember to look for this feature to find south.
Ferocactus cylindraceus can reach a height of 2.5 meters (8 feet) with a width of up to 30 cm (12 inches). Blooms found on the top of the cylinder, like a hat, are yellow, red or orange. In general, spring is the best time to view wildflowers in the desert, but these cactuses bloom a bit later in July and late summer.