As our kids, grandkids, and friends know, Betty doesn’t swear. But now every morning when she wakes up and looks out our bedroom window, she exclaims: “Those are some big frickken cactus!” LOL.




In the Tucson area of southern Arizona, the cactus is ubiquitous. Front yards, boulevards, license plates and whole mountains are covered in this unique plant. On the one hand it is readily identifiable by its covering in sharp spikes, but we have found that there are so many variations in our campground alone, that we had to stop by a downtown 4th Avenue bookstore after dinner last night to pick up a primer on the perfectly prickly plant.

So here are some of the variations in Gilbert Ray Campground, our current Reddoch Retreat Centre, as identified in Cacti, other Succulents, and Unusual Xerophytes of Southern Arizona:

(Disclaimer: OK, so I just opened the book and there are 96 pages of cacti, many looking very similar to the variations on the previous pages. Apparently there are 850 species of cactus. My bad if I don’t get the names right. Just don’t use this blog post on your next biology test. LOL)

The saguaro (cereus giganteus), or as Betty calls it “a big frickken cactus!” is
just outside our bedroom window, towering over us at about 20 feet. They can grow up to 50’, according to my handy book.


This is Betty in our backyard, surrounded by some of her prickly friends. They are obviously nothing like our good friends back in Manitoba. LOL



The palmer agave is a great plant to photograph, as the sun and shadows can make a dramatic rendering.



I think this is the pineapple cactus, but it’s bigger than any pineapple I’ve ever seen!





This is a closeup of something spikey, although I don’t think that’s the technical name.



The pancake prickly pear is a common plant, but I wouldn’t eat it with any amount of maple syrup!





This may be the ocotillo, or coach whip. Ouch!




This furry tree is also known as the jumping cholla





Flowers are just starting to appear on the tops of cacti.



The cacti add to some dramatic views from our campsite at sunset.


OK, that’s enough of our botany lesson for today. If you forget any of the official names, feel free to use Betty’s appropriate term: “That’s a big frickken cactus!” LOL

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