Monday, February 9, 2009

Cactus: Up Close and Personal

You can reach out and touch it, and yes, the spines are sharp. This is a close-up of  a rib of a saguaro cactus so you can see the areole much better.  The areole is the cushion that produces spines and sometimes flowers.  In this photo, you can see the central spine coming directly out from the areole, along with radial spines protruding from the cushion. Cacti do look like they come from another planet.  

While growing up in the Arizona desert, I have been stuck by many, many cactus needles.  Sometimes the spines are long and hard; other times they are tiny, fiber-like spines. Some spines are actually called fishhook spines, and they are really shaped like fishhooks so that you do not want to pull them straight out.  Jumping cholla was the regular culprit for most of my trouble.  Sometimes when I was young, I would walk barefoot on desert paths and in my yard, so it is no wonder that I would get stuck.

The long, hard spines, like the one in the photo, are easy to find and pull out with tweezers.  The micro fiber spines, such as from the pads of prickly pears, however, are actually very hard to see and difficult to pull out of your skin. Sometimes they stay in my skin for days and are rather annoying. My methods to remove cactus spines have included tweezers, scissors, knives, and tape.  You really should wear leather gloves when moving or planting cactus.  

21 comments:

Olivier said...

belle macro de ce cactus. Attention de ne pas s'y piquer.

beautiful macro of this cactus. Be careful not to bite.

Jim said...

Awesome close up. I think I pricked my finger on it.

Rambling Round said...

Really does look other-worldly! You got a great closeup.

JM said...

This is a great detail as well as the previous shot!
Yes, spines can be a problem when handle cacti, especcially when repotting! You can guess I have a long experience... lol!

Answering to your question: my work has nothing to do with travelling (took me to Spain and Italy only), so I allways do it on holidays.

nanak said...

its awesome! i really love the detail.

Sharon said...

A very thorny subject! :-)

Dave-CostaRicaDailyPhoto.com said...

When I look at this photo, if I didn't know better I would think that I am wearing a pair of those 3-D movie glasses. How you kept the spike in focus in a macro setting is quite a trick.

brattcat said...

Beautiful composition.

Hyde DP said...

Don't think I've ever been up close to a cactus (apart from very little ones in pots) and from your account I don't think I want to be - super photo though.

Jarart said...

Great macro shot! I can remember working for hours at a time pulling cactus needles out of my horse's legs after a day of cross country riding.

april said...

A great close-up that shows the nice light blue of the spines.

Clueless in boston said...

I was amazed at the variety and beauty of the cacti when I visited Arizona. I still have a small cactus in a pot I keep in my office. Water it once a month, skip January. What could be easier!

Pat said...

I've been told to use a comb to get out multiple spines that are hard to see.

It's been a while since the last time I've been stuck.

Greensboro Daily said...

Julie:

Today, I'm going around the world viewing at least one blog per continent. Trying to find new ones. You are my North America pick. I love the flora you have selected, have your same love of art, and was THRILLED to see the Chiluly glass from earlier. I will post a glass piece on Friday. Stop by if you get a chance.

Jan
Greensboro Daily Photo

Nancy said...

I spent a lot of time in the desert and in Baja California. I've been bitten by a few caci in my day. Nice close-up shots. I love shooting in macro for my garden blog.

V y Yo said...

Love it! love it, love it!!!!!!!!

Steve Buser said...

My first look at a cactus up close -- interesting.

gogouci said...

It takes a brave soul to take cactus macros.

Missy said...

Interesting cactus, I remember when I went to Tucson Arizona I saw giant cactus.

Frankie / Nick said...

Truly beautiful indeed. Wouldn't care to transplant it though,:)
Love the uniqueness of yesterdays submission. Awesome photography.

Petrea said...

One doesn't want to be TOO personal with these babies.

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