The desert is an amazing place. Despite the harsh conditions, numerous plants and animals thrive there. Many plants, including cacti, bloom in the spring and summer, bringing tremendous color to the otherwise drab surroundings.
Looks can be deceiving, however. Certain plants may be appealing to the eyes, but can ruin your afternoon if you get too close. Needles on the Cholla plants, for example, can easily puncture clothing and even tires. The Yucca plant and Cat’s Claw also present hazards, and should be avoided.
as you might expect, is a member of the cactus family. Found throughout North and South America, it can grow up to 10 feet high depending on type. The following Chollas are found extensively in the southwestern part of the United States.
Other plants to watch for include:
Getting poked by a needle or thorn won’t kill you. These aren’t punji sticks, but any puncture should be treated. Needles often have a tiny barb at the end. After sticking you, the needle will often burrow into your skin making it difficult to remove.
If you get stuck by a needle, carefully remove it and clean the wound thoroughly. You can get a nasty infection if you allow the wound to fester. Make sure your first aid kit contains tweezers and some antibiotic ointment.
Needles from the Cholla plants can puncture tires as well, so keep your distance. Those are handled as you would any other puncture. (see Tire Problems Shouldn’t Deflate Your Day) If the tire has been sliced open, however, you’ll need to swap on your spare.
The bottom line: When in the desert, take in the beauty and serenity of your surroundings, but keep the plants at a safe distance.