Monday, July 27, 2009

Cactus Monday- Desert Wilderness @ Joshua Tree National Park

It's Cactus Monday, and I am moving from redwood trees to cactus. For today's post, I will be sharing a natural desert landscape scenery in Southeastern California. 
Cholla Cactus Garden Nature Trail
The Cholla Cactus Garden Nature trail is one of the attractions in Joshua Tree National Park. The trail has massive grove of cholla cactus.
Teddybear Cholla, Joshua Tree National Park, CA
Because of its papery sheaths and well barbed spines, the cactus look soft from a distance, thus the common name "teddy bear". 
Cholla Cactus Garden Nature Trail, Joshua Tree National Park
The segments of teddybear cholla are easily detached from the plant and the detached segments form new plants by rooting and growing. Because of their spines, the loose segments can easily stick to passing animals. The animals then transport the fallen segment far from the mother plant. Thus, its other common name, "jumping cholla". 
The teddybear cholla or the jumping cholla can grow from 3 ft to 5 ft tall. The lower branches often fall off and the older spines turn black with age, thus the vertical and the dark appearance of the lower trunk. Strong spines are also believed to be cacti's protection and defense mechanism against hungry and thirsty animals who would want their internal water.  
Bunny Among the Chollas
Most leafy plants cool themselves off during the day by opening their pores, however, the pores of cacti open only at night. Without transpirational cooling mechanism during the day, the cactus adapt to desert heat by internal mechanisms. Teddy bear cholla for instance can withdstand an air temperature of 138 degrees Fahnrenheit, when other leaves will cook with that kind of heat. The well barbed spines are believed to help them protect from sunlight,  providing the plants shade to protect the chlorphyll from being bleached and their DNA from being damaged by the intense heat. 
  Teddybear Cholla, Cholla Cactus Garden Nature Trail
The chollas in the above picture look like glowing in the sun because of the yellow color of the younger spines, plus, I took that above shot using the "shade" option in the white balance, giving the look some bronze glow. Though the summer in this desert is very hot, but we usually come here during winter where the temperature is from 30s-60s F. During the cooler season (late fall to early spring), visitation to this park peaks, especially during spring when the desert wildflowers bloom. 
Here are some more pictures from Joshua Tree National Park, in San Bernardino County, California.
Barker Dam, Joshua Tree National Park
Hikers @ Skull Rock Trail
Layers of Mountains from Keys View
Joshua Trees @ Hidden Valley, Sunset
The Joshua trees are the largest of the yucca family, grows naturally only in the Mojave desert and nowhere else in the world. The Joshua tree and the other members of yuccas are part of the lily family. Here are some more pictures of Joshua Trees at sunset. 
A happy Cactus Monday, everyone.
For more of Cactus Monday posts, please visit Teri's Painted Daisies. 
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  1. Betchai, I've always thought cactus to be fascinating and beautiful at times. Love the bunny photo too. These photos are very striking. Well done my friend.

  2. ang cute ng bunny, beth...gusto kong iuwi, hihihi...

  3. What stuning sites!
    Wonderful pictures and that cute bunny!! Such great info.


  4. Such a beautiful post of cactus! I would love to have a chance to see the Joshua Tree! Sounds so fascinating..

    The sunset photos are just out of this world.

  5. I've photographed chollas many times both here and in other spots.. and they are definitely not as warm and fuzzy as they look! If you're concentrating through the camera and forget where your feet or legs are going.. ouch:( And the barbs are really difficult to remove.
    Nice sunset scenes here too.. one of my favorite locations!
    Good job on the scene of San Jacinto from Keys View.

  6. What a great post, love the photos, and the cactuses are really cool.
    Happy Cactus Monday!


  7. I love the glowing teddybear chollas and the Joshua trees at sunset. Interesting how the cholla spines actually help to shade them from sunlight and also that Joshua trees are of the Lily family.

  8. You have a gorgeous collection of photos here...The jumping cholla are aglow in the sun...fantastic! HCM! :)

  9. My favorite plant, I have one and it is actually doing pretty good, great shots once again.

  10. A plant that live very differently. Others like a lot of water, but it does not want too much.

  11. Fantastic photos and information! I have been in that park and seen those cholla. Fun to see them again. Those sunset skies are awesome.


  12. I have never seen a Cholla or Joshua tree! As usual your exquisite pictures have cheered me!

  13. I love the Joshua Trees silhouette. So beautiful reflected against the skies.

  14. The hikers at skull rock trail's a beautiful composition. Nice :)

  15. I have seen these fascinating cacti before. They are lovely, unique, and amazingly beautiful. I would love one in my yard. I wonder if that is possible hmm.

  16. I love those teddy bear cactus! HCM...

  17. What great photos! I especially loved the bunny.

  18. those are spikey! but from a far looks like sea corals =)

    i love the sunset betchai!

  19. is that banyang's friend? ahahaha!

  20. The teddy bear chollas really do look like teddy bears. I like that. The rabbit looks right at home with things like that.

  21. I haven't seen so many cacti like now. Those sky photos are so beautiful too.