Growing up in Southern Alberta, I was acutely aware of cacti. I had on a few occasions encountered prickly pear cacti among the vegetation of the coulees of the Old Man river. Some of our encounters were pleasant, others not so much. I was also aware of the Saguaro cacti, even though I didn’t know its name from the numerous cartoons and TV shows that I watched growing up. This truly doesn’t reflect the diversity of the Sonoran Desert.
A new experience for me during our visit so far in Arizona is the inhospitable nature of the plant life. I’m scared of plants now. While biking down a dirt path around our campsite, I realized that pretty much everything is loudly saying in plant talk “don’t touch me… EVER”. It’s not just the cacti, in which there are numerous species that I was never aware of. Succulents, those plants that you know as Aloe Vera in your house exist down here as Agave and Yucca. Down here their just dryer, angrier and pointier. The bushes and shrubs also make our Wild Rose seem progressively wild?
The interesting point about all these angry, aggressive plants is that they are edible and useful to the indigenous people of the area. So many of them can be eaten, used for tea or even cleaning clothes. I haven’t had the time to learn them all or take their pictures, but here are some of our favorites.