As I began my trek through the desert, I found beautiful specimens of cacti, plants and even some wildlife, but I also found a few skeletons as well…..
This beautiful Saguaro was one of the first cacti that greeted me on my walk.
The first skeleton I came across was from a Saguaro cactus; part of it still standing upright. You can see where top part of the skeleton has fallen to the ground.
Here it is close up. The decay is till present as you can see inside. The woody remains of the saguaro are called ‘ribs’ and are what supports the Saguaro cactus.
Above, is a photo of a Saguaro that had just fallen. You can easily see the ribs. Whenever a Saguaro cactus would fall in a landscape setting, we would move it to an out of the way area where it could decay. Then we would take the ribs and put them back into the landscape as a display. Saguaro ribs are considered a beautiful accent in the desert landscape and are prized by many.
Native Americans used Saguaro ‘ribs’ to build roofs, walls and even furniture. Another use was that they would make long poles that they used to knock off the Saguaro fruit, which is edible.
Saguaro are not the only types of cacti that leave behind skeletons….
Teddy Bear Cholla (Opuntia bigelovii)
Teddy Bear Cholla (above), also has an interesting skeleton.
Above, is a photo of a segment of Teddy Bear Cholla that is in the process of decaying. You can see the woody skeleton starting to show.
Cholla skeletons are sometimes used as walking sticks. Artisans also use cholla skeletons to make southwestern forms of art.
It is illegal to remove Saguaro and Cholla skeletons from the desert, unless you have permission from the owner. Specimens can sometimes be purchased at certain plant nurseries that specialize in cacti.
So do as I do…..enjoy them out in the desert and take lots of photos.