Cactus of the Week: Organ Pipe

Organ Pipe
Stenocereus thurberi

Finally, not a cholla! (I love chollas. Sorry.) The organ pipe is one of the grand daddies of all the cacti—it even has its own National Monument!

The organ pipe is very distinctive: it has a handful of narrow stems that grow from a single base. The “pipes” are about 6″ in diameter and grow to about 16′ tall.

A Walk Up An Arroyo

Sometimes we don’t set off with a destination in mind. We get in the Jeep with the dog, some water, the camera and go. Somewhere along the line we’re bound to see a cool old car, a mine shaft, a new road, or a mountain. On a beautiful desert January day, we spotted an arroyo that needed some exploring, so we went.

Sprocket loved having his Ruffwear boots to protect him from the cacti spines! He’s a trooper when we have to help him but it’s nice to have a little bit of protection.

Sprocket’s Grip Trex boots were provided by Ruffwear.

Cactus Of The Week: Buckhorn Cholla

Buckhorn Cholla
Cylindropuntia acanthrocarpa

Buckhorn cholla is found throughout southern Nevada and Utah and throughout Arizona (its range also extends into northern Mexico). It has stem segments that are about 6″ long and grows into a tall (2′-8′) shrub like structure.

The Buckhorn Cholla blooms in early summer producing yellow flowers about 3″ wide.

Childs Mountain

A couple weekends ago, we joined in on a sunset tour of Childs Mountain. The road to the top is usually gated but Cabeza Prieta opens the gate once a month for the public. The views were incredible and made us want to get out and explore, explore, explore!


One of our morning coffee buddies, “Boozer,” asked if we would take him out in the Jeep so that he could show us some of the cool things to be seen in the desert around Ajo. We happily agreed and last week, Forrest, Boozer, Kathy, and I set off on a little adventure—Boozer promised to show us some morteros (holes in rocks where the Papago indians used to grind mesquite pods into meal).

Tour guide Boozer

Cactus Of The Week: Teddy Bear Cholla

Teddy Bear Cholla
Cylindropuntia bigelovii

The teddy bear cholla might look cuddly but these cute little cacti drop “cholla balls” that easily stick to shoes and dog paws and legs. This cholla grows in tree like structures about 1-3 feet high and is often surrounded by other cholla that grew as clones from the dropped stems.

Cactus Of The Week: Pencil Cholla

Cholla (choy-YA) is a part of the cactus family (Cactacea) and the genus cylindropuntia (“cylindrical stems”).  There are several species of cholla in the Sonoran Desert. And with that introduction, our first Cacti Of The Week:

Pencil Cholla
Cylindropuntia arbuscula

Grows in a bush like orientation up to about 1 meter tall (some can grow to as large as 2 meters). Pencil cholla has short, narrow stem segments with sparse, but long, spines. The pencil cholla flowers in May-June and produces small fruit.