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I was just watching one of Bills videos and as he was walking past a neat looking plant he seemed to be wary of it.

He mentioned the name so I figured to look it up..

Cholla Cactus

WOW,  I would be scared to be anywhere around them. Sounds like you don’t even have to be to close to them.  Up here in the great north east the only plant we have to be cautious of is really poison Ivy, and dealing with that is just a nuisance.  How do you guys deal with that, from what I have read, jumping cactus. I thought watching for rattlesnakes is all you guys had to worry about.

Edited by Cooper

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Everything that grows in the desert has thorns that will stick you and everything that crawls will bite. Cholla is just a confused prickly pear cactus and they both will put the hurt on you bad. Especially the "teddy bear" type of cholla. You get stuck by a wad of thorns engineered by size and stiffness to be almost impossible to remove. And those wads seem to move around and get in the worst places sometimes. All cholla is super bad but the furry rascals in Arizona and California are the absolute worst.

The Apaches used to throw their victim in a cholla or prickly pear and just watch. A man gets stuck so bad his skin stretches out trying to pull himself loose. This pulls other parts of his body deeper. In many cases if a fellow falls down into one really good it is impossible to get out. If they do they take big chunks of the cactus with them. If you try and grab that chunk to pull it off you get stuck bad in your hands. It multiplies. You can get thousands upon thousands of thorns in you. They will drive themselves all the way into the meat if you come down with some weight.

Desert dwellers eat poison ivy with vinegar and oil. :cowboypistol: That stuff has never bothered me at all since I was a tender babe. I had a little rash last week under my arms but we pushed though it for a half mile and it was almost head high. That is the only time I can remember havig a reaction since I was just a pup.

Mezquite or Knifeleaf thorns will make you have an arthritis attack and are (in ways) even worse than Cholla. You will swell up and get so stiff and sore you cant move. And a buddy of mine backed up into a Lechuguilla thorn and drove it into his leg so deep I could not pull it out with pliers. I couldn't believe how hard I pulled and it would not budge. It had to be cut out in emergency surgery.  Lots of plants here have different shaped thorns and hooks with poisonous membranes at the tips. A tiny poke will cause a lot of pain and in some folks a serious reaction. Some just scrape at you a tiny bit and cause a big welt.

Lots of people that fall, have a horse wreck, a motorcycle wreck or car accidents get to know our native flora up close and personal. In many places even the rocks are sharp and will cut you down to the meat if you slip and fall. I don't know a single native desert dweller that can't tell endless stories about the horrors of vegetive impalement on some horny bush in the desert.

 

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I can’t even imagine being stuck and have to go into surgery to be removed.   Heck,  my wife says I’m  a pansy when I get a bee sting..

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Teddybear Cholla is my worst fear. I hate to work close to them. The balls of thorns fall off in breezes and roll on the ground winding up in the washes. In time they break apart and leave clusters of thorns that are difficult to see. Digging in the dirt or touching the ground will stab you. I've had them penetrate my shoes just stepping on them. They may look like a teddy bear but actually they are Grizzly Bears.

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Back in the mid 70s my friend Bruce in his Toyota truck and my wife and our 120 lb Rhodesian Ridgeback   in my CJ5 drove from Pasadena to Anza Borrego area We headed up Rockhouse canyon to hunt for a placer mine that had produced some great gold for the old prospector that worked it at the base of the Santa Rosa Mtns. Got to the area on our topo map and knew the mine was about 2 miles from our position. We hiked up a ridge  through the teddy bears, dog had already meet a few jumpers that we pulled out. We could see his placer mine  in the distance, but the whole valley before us was solid with chollas impossible to get through even without a dog. We camped and drove home disappointed the next day.

Bob

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Metal detecting on LSD one time and I got into a patch and got some in my legs and shoes. I set my pick down on the ground to deal with the Cholla. When I  got to the point to work my way out I forgot the pick. After getting free I saw the pick standing there . I guess it is still there !!!

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The upside to the cholla (opuntia) family is that many are hallucinogenic. The tasajillo cholla has red berries that are sweeter than candy. They have wicked little tiny thorns that will stick in your throat and mouth if you try to eat them straight from the cactus. The juice from these cactus fruits is "dry whiskey" and contain a suite of hallucinogenic alkaloids including mescaline. Jam. jelly and juice made from these little rascals can really cause a change in your perception if you consume enough for an active dose.

The half brother of the cholla is the prickly pear and many of them have fruits (tunas) that are hallucinogenic as well. The little baby cactus pads or nopalitos are common in salsas and cactus candy too. 

All of the fruits make great jams, drinks and wine. It is wise to go easy on them until you know how they are going to affect you. Wine made from the tasajillo can really be potent stuff and is super delicious. Prickly pear wine can be too. It is such a bright fuscia color that it will turn your teeth purple. if you drink enough your sweat will stain a white tee shirt bright pink! It is really easy to drink too much because it goes down so easy and tastes great. Just about the time you think the alcohol affect is wearing off the alkaloids start kicking in and it can really catch you off guard. 

I'm not sure what the drink is called that is made form the tasajillo but we always just called it "dry whiskey" or "tuna juice". It is pretty common in the fall when the berries are ripe. You will see a lot of folks collecting the fruits to make jams and juice. You can even buy the dried powdered fruit to make an awesome tea.

"Jamaica" drink is sweet hibiscus tea but it can also be mixed with tasajillo or tunas to sweeten it instead of sugar. If you are thirsty and get a big gut full of Tasajillo Jamaica it will make the colors vivid and you will get quite euphoric for an hour or so. It is a fairly common drink at the fiestas and for some it is an annual family tradition.

A Tasajillo Cholla...

tasajillo.jpg

 

 

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Captions: sorry dude.... we will let you use our multi-tool but we ain't touching those things!!!

See the source image

See the source image

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I learned to carry a Comb because of that crap.  You work the comb between you and them and FLICK them off.   

 

When your out and about and get the Erg to do the thing,  Always check the heels of your boots.

 

Failing to do so could be BAD Ju Ju when you go to squat.

 

Yep, Been there. 

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1 minute ago, Au Seeker said:

See the source image

See the source image

Someone told him that was a "jumping cactus" so he jumped! :laught16: 

The teddy bears are wicked "pokers" but the arms break off easy. I am not sure of that is a curse or blessing.

Those freaking teddy bear rascals will stick into the side of a plastic bucket. It takes more force to pull the thorn than break the cluster so they are always breaking off and coming with you. It is evil alien engineering. 

Our cholla in the Chihuahuan Desert DON"T break off easy. If you make as much contact with one as this guy did you would be stuck to the plant. It would take the winch on the front of your Toyota to pull you out of it. THEN it would break and chunks would come with you.

They aren't as sticky though. You can slap against one walking by and most of the time get away unscathed. Especially in winter. But if you do get stuck, even a little, you will pull so hard to get it out your skin will stretch.

The roadrunners and trade rats will build fortresses out of cholla thorn clusters. I saw an old camper that was stuffed completely full of old cholla thorns and rat turds. Cubic yards of them in a dense block. The packrats had taken over that place and after a dozen years they had filled it up nearly completely.

The roadrunners will pile those things up too. All sorts of birds in the desert have learned to use those things as armor, weapons, building blocks. They will even impale bugs on them. The cholla is one of the most important plants in the southwest desert. And there are about a thousand different variations on the same theme. Every species engineered around a wicked set of thorns.

The fiber skeleton left after the plant dies is used in all sorts of art and woodworking projects. It makes a wicked knife handle, table lamp or chair legs. I use a couple truckloads of the dead fiber every year and make all sorts of cool stuff with it. Most of it is from the plants I have growing on my property.

It grows great here and you see it used for fence often. I have a solid wall of cholla around my property inside the wire fence and it is better than a moat with alligators. It is about five feet high and has beautiful purple flowers in the spring. No one could get over the fence and through the cholla into the yard. The dogs stay a few feet inside the cholla and never get near the fence. So it is perfect landscaping. The quail and rabbits just love it. Zero maintenance. 

It grows fast and I thin it every 2-3 years. You can cut a piece and lay it on the bare ground and it will never stop growing. Some arms get 6-7 feet long and as big as your leg at the base. It only takes about 4 years. Ours survive -13 degree winters and 110 degree summers. We had only 4-5 inches of rain per year for several years and they still grew fast. So they are one of my very favorite desert plants for sure. 

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50 minutes ago, homefire said:

I learned to carry a Comb because of that crap.  You work the comb between you and them and FLICK them off.   

 

When your out and about and get the Erg to do the thing,  Always check the heels of your boots.

 

Failing to do so could be BAD Ju Ju when you go to squat.

 

Yep, Been there. 

I had a buddy that lost his balance and fell back into one while taking a dump in the desert at night. It was bad. He had his pants down, crap all over him and was stuck on his back screaming for help.

Yessir. It was not a good look for him.

I would much rather piss on a spark plug. Repeatedly.

 

The comb is a great idea Homie. Downright brilliant. 

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We used to mountain bikes in Arizona for years and saw all kinds of victims of cactus. Tweezers worked good on the prickly pear and duck tape. My good buddy met his wife by helping pull prickly pear out of her butt after falling off her bike. :25r30wi:

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OMG..   That's about the only response to these pictures and posts. I can't even imagine the pain and discomfort. The only cactus we have around here is the little cute ones in Home Depot garden center and now I don't think Ill ever pass by them again. 

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I've had my share of run ins with cholla and have scars to show for it. That's sone really nasty stuff and to be avoided at all costs.

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All cactus is to be avoided.

 

190710162450-cactus-car-large-169.jpg

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