Did you know that the desert is full of skeletons?
Not the spooky kind, but another type of skeleton….those of cacti.
Now the beautiful, saguaro cactus has a skeleton that is actually highly prized.
As it nears the end of its life, it begins to decay…
In the photo above, you can see that the top part of the cactus has fallen, leaving only the bottom still standing.
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.
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 (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.