Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Early last April, I started a search for an obscure form of Echinomastus, long synonimized with Echinomastus johnsonii, an entity described by JP Hester in 1934 as Echinomastus arizonicus. It was originally recorded from Yuma County and that confused me for a good while, as Yuma County currently is far south of any likely johnsonii territory. It wasn't until some more research that I found out that E. arizonicus is localized in Maricopa and La Paz Counties, and that the La Paz County plants are in territory that used to be Yuma County. Anyway, my search originally took me west of Phoenix toward Bouse, AZ.

O. basilaris already flowering in the lowlands.

I think these are Cylindropuntia Xcongesta, but I'm not positive. They might just be especially congested echinocarpa.

I went down an old mining road and found some great habitat for Ferocactus cylindraceus and Echinocereus engelmannii, but no Echinomastus.

A forest of Cylindropuntia bigelovii.

The only crested Ferocactus cylindraceus I have seen.

Cylindropuntia flower.

On the way back out from Bouse, I caught sight of this small herd of desert bighorns. Breathtaking borregos.

Another stop for more searching for Echinomastus, to no avail. Some beauty, however.

Interesting transitional desert out here, with some markers of the Mojave and some of the Sonoran.

I was determined to see some Echinomastus, so I drove up Vulture Mine Road to a population that seems to have some characters of both johnsonii and arizonicus, south of Wickenburg.

The next weekend, a friend and I did indeed find the Echinomastus arizonicus outside Bouse. Stay tuned.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Border Wars and Cacti

I went back to Douglas the third week of February last year to look again for Peniocereus greggii RAR11, collected by my cactus acquaintance, Rob Romero. I have a few going from seed, purchased from the Noah's Ark of cacti, Mesa Garden, pictured above at 2 years old.

Incredible dust storm on I-10 on the way down had the road closed. I was in a rush to leave right after teaching on Friday, then I spent 3 hours on the interstate. Good times.

I did manage to get to Tombstone before sunset. The Tombstone cemetery populated by ghosts and European and Japanese tourists.

I thought it was fitting that the notoriously difficult to identify Opuntia was growing on this grave.

A homesteader's claim, hanging in the lobby of the Hotel Gadsden in Douglas.

Art for sale, Douglas.

There are a lot of churches in Douglas, especially on Church Street.

The town plaza was having a Christian Event.

A Christian pop band called Soul Harvest.

The audience.

The lobby of the Hotel Gadsden.

The next morning, after a great dinner of chicken vindaloo at the restaurant attached to the Traveler Motel, I headed out along Geronimo Road and the road up over the Peloncillo Mountains to New Mexico. Great habitat, blustery rainy day. I was stopped 4 times by US Border Patrol. They also asked to search my car. It was surreal all the way around.

Fire resistant Echinocereus rigidissimus.

Echinocereus arizonicus ssp. nigrihorridispinus

Interesting Agave.

New growth in February on Echinocereus rigidissimus.

I never did find the Peniocereus, and it was a hassle dealing with so much Border Patrol interference. At one stop, I asked if there was some particular danger or event going on. The agents just shrugged and said it was probably not the greatest idea for me to be driving such a rocky, rough dirt road in my Honda. I also asked what would happen if I said they couldn't search my car. One of the agents laughed and said "We'd just hold you here while we tried to get a warrant. On a Sunday." All right then. Search away.