Field Notes

Friday Flora Feature: Arizona Fishhook Pincushion (Mammillaria grahamii)

October 14, 2021

When hiking through southeastern Arizona in the desert or woodlands, it’s a real treat to see the Arizona Fishhook Pincushion cactus (Mammillaria grahamii) growing cryptically under palo verde trees, creosote shrubs, or even under other cacti. Over the course of the year, M. grahamii fluctuates between a state of full camouflage nestled among Sonoran Desert rocks or a state of being on full display with a shock of bright pink flowers or even brighter…
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Microscopic View of a Hedgehog Cactus Fruit

November 23, 2020

Hedgehog cacti of the Echinocereus genus are relatively small-stature cactus plants with multiple cylindrical stems. In eastern Arizona, Fendler hedgehog (Echinocereus fendleri) may go unnoticed for much of the year until its brilliant pink blooms open in April-May. The large round fruits are bright red and ripe, attractive to many wildlife species that help disperse the hedgehog cactus seeds after…
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Microscopic View of a Cholla Fruit

November 1, 2020

When you zoom in closer and closer to living things you encounter in the Sky Island region, it’s amazing what you find! I was recently drawn to look more closely at the Desert Christmas Cholla (Cylindopuntia leptocaulis) growing in my yard. Its scientific name means cylindrical slender stem, a fitting name for this short and branching cactus abundant…
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