Dunes of Hazard
Welcome to the Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree National Park, California, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, all the children are above average and all the cacti are hazardous. Well, maybe not ALL the cac-ti… just one cac-tus according to the sign. The rest of the garden’s residents are much more cuddly, if you’re into that kinda thing. (images at top via daveynin and above via m01229)
* Cool Cactus Fact: Cholla cactus colonies (often called “Cholla Gardens” are typically populated with clones that sprouted from tubercles of an original plant, therefore sharing the same DNA. Huh, guess the sign’s correct after all!
Mother Nature has many ways of getting her message across: contrasting colors that alert potential predators to toxins and stingers, for example. Cacti employ similar tactics in that their spines are often a different color compared to the plant’s skin. In addition, the spines themselves effectively deter outside annoyances due to their inherent er, spiney-ness. Of course, nothing is more annoying than the average human (with a human lawyer on speed dial) who demands an explanatory sign to protect them from themselves. So much for the theory of evolution. (image via libraryems)
* Cool Cactus Fact: Cactus spines are not to be trifled with. A study published in 2005 described the skull of a Bighorn sheep that had been penetrated by a Saguaro cactus spine, possibly after the unfortunate creature ran into a large cactus. Not exactly “Ram Tough”, was he?
Worst Petting Zoo EVAR
Don’t smoke, don’t bring food, no coyotes allowed off-leash and don’t touch that tiny cactus? You’re not the boss of me, Cactimundo! Fine, we’ll set up our own cactus garden with blackjack and umm, a smoking section and a cafe with free-range coyote waitstaff and a first aid station… ‘cuz you CAN touch the cacti and you’d better believe they’re gonna touch you right back. (image via CalmudgeOn)
* Cool Cactus Fact: The frequency and severity of droughts is rising, as is the human population of America’s parched southwest. One solution: convert your water-hogging grass lawn to a field of naturally drought-tolerant cacti and other native “succulent” plants! Not only will you save water, tres-pissing canines may prefer to hold in it rather than run the gamut of thorns and spines.
Guard Cactus On Duty
“Beware of Dog” signs make sense. “Beware of Cat” signs… OK, we’ll allow it. “Beware of Cactus” signs? Weird, unless Cactuar’s on the prowl. In any case, we don’t see any obvious cacti in this photo but there DO appear to be plenty of Saw Palmetto – a spiny species of palm whose extract is used in OTC prostate supplements. So, like, “Beware of Saw Palmetto” and while you’re bewaring and such, don’t sit down! (image via Dvortygirl)
* Cool Cactus Fact: Saw Palmetto is native to subtropical and tropical regions of the southeastern United States including nearly all of the state of Florida, which may or may not explain the oft-newsworthy exploits of “Florida Man”. Still no cure for Florida Woman.
Wright Brothers, Wrong Stuff
Cactus aren’t only found in deserts, as the above photo snapped at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina appears to indicate. This little-known fact only adds to our admiration for powered flight pioneers the Wright Brothers, who had to (1) run through cactus as their flimsy Flyer taxied and (2) risked injury to spines and from spines when it came time to land. “Ouch!” indeed! (cropped image via Ken Lund)
Think cactus are the only off-putting plants? Check out Scents Of Doubt: The World’s 12 Smelliest Plants!