Home sweet home
Many desert animals make use of the wide variety of cholla found within the desert environment. The fleshy fruits are a source of both food and moisture for many species of mammals. Birds find the fortress of spines within the cholla plant an ideal location to build a safe nest. Shown here is a cactus wren, Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus, nest snuggled deep inside the protective spines of an isolated cholla.
When the fruit of the cholla cactus is allowed to mature, it forms what is commonly known as cholla buds. Cholla buds are considered the super food of the desert. Indigenous Native People, such as the Tohono O'odham, gathered these buds each spring. The buds provide a rich source of calcium and could be dried to use at a later time when other food sources were scarce.
Beauty in savage land
The many species of cholla found scattered across the North American deserts are a source of unique beauty in what often is a very harsh land. They have the ability to grow in such an arid region ,while adding an endless array of shapes and sizes to the environment. Their fruits have long provided a invaluable source of food for both desert animals and the people of the desert. And their beautiful springtime flowers add a touch of refreshing color to an often bleak landscape.