California Barrel Cactus

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These tall, fat, California barrel cactus swell up from absorbing moisture after a rainfall and shrivel during the dry season. When cut open they are a good source of water for the desert big horn sheep, but not for humans because the moisture inside is very alkaline and will cause a greater thirst. I love the shape and color of this chubby desert plant, and the interwoven patterns of the long sharp curved thorns. They definitely look like something to keep at a respectful distance and could result in pain for the unaware. It is fun for me to revisit these areas where I spent a great deal of time in my youth, and see the subject matter that inspired my very early paintings.

More tomorrow,

Gail Niebrugge, art of wildflowers

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