One of my favorite forests of chain-fruit cholla, also called jumping cholla, was in the desert on the north end of the Tortolita Mountains. Park Link Drive was a dirt road that ran from the Florence Highway west to Red Rock and along that road was a magnificent forest of Cylindropuntia fulgida. It’s not an uncommon cholla in the desert around Tucson and we had several on our property northwest of Tucson. They always had dove, thrasher or cactus wren nests tucked into the spiny branches. When we saw the thicket of them on the way to Cascabel it brought back memories of those times. I suspect that we were looking at some of the eastern most population of this cholla species.
The photos are mine from the cloudy day when we were headed to Cascabel and also a photo of an illustration from Lyman Benson’s The Cacti of Arizona. Lucretia Breazeale Hamilton’s botanical drawings are amazing. She was a Tucsonan and a co-founder with her husband of the Tucson Native Plant Society. Any plant book with her illustrations, and there are many, is worth owning.
And finally, I have to laugh…while describing our drive toward Willcox I had the Willcox Playa to the east…you probably should never get directions from me… it’s to the west as we head north to Willcox.