Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Dense tasajillo

with 21 comments

Dense Tasajillo Cactus 0632

Also at McKinney Falls State Park on March 1, 2013, I found this densely branching tasajillo cactus, Cylindropuntia leptocaulis. The combination of red and green has led some people to call this a Christmas cactus, while the slenderness of the joints has led others to call it a pencil cactus.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 2, 2015 at 5:42 AM

21 Responses

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  1. I vote for pencil cactus although it would be a mighty uncomfortable pencil.


    March 2, 2015 at 5:45 AM

    • I thought about adding a sentence to that effect last night but my psychic mind must have demurred to give you the chance to say it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 2, 2015 at 7:44 AM

  2. I wonder, do cacti form associations, as some plants do around here? It is so interesting to see their different forms.


    March 2, 2015 at 8:18 AM

  3. Before learning that this was a cactus, I immediately thought Scratchy! And I don’t mean Itchy’s patsy.

    All this greenery is both depressing me and lifting me with hopes for spring. I drove around this morning after a nice light snowfall and just couldn’t get enthused to do any photography.

    Steve Gingold

    March 2, 2015 at 9:38 AM

    • From what you say, it’s easy to understand why you don’t feel enthused. The pictures I’ve been showing from around this time in other years don’t reflect much of what I’ve seen since I returned to Austin three days ago. The weather here has been overcast, drizzly, and near freezing, and although the redbud trees have started blossoming (as have the non-native Bradford pears), I haven’t noticed much in the way of wildflowers. At the same time, I’ve been busy settling back in to life in Austin and haven’t yet gone out looking for things in nature to photograph, of which there might well be some if I looked in the right places. Your spring always comes after ours, so there’s nothing unusual in your lassitude as we enter March.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 2, 2015 at 9:50 AM

  4. I don’t think I’ve seen that variety before. Sure looks great against that oh-so-blue sky!


    March 2, 2015 at 9:52 AM

  5. The world is so full of such amazing discoveries…I have not seen this before and I have been to the desert many times.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    March 2, 2015 at 4:20 PM

    • This is quite a common cactus in central Texas, Charlie, and I found it in Arizona as well when I was there last fall. On that trip I focused on saguaros and larger chollas, cacti that I don’t get a chance to see in my area.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 2, 2015 at 4:51 PM

  6. What a good reminder of the importance of scientific names. I have both pencil cactus and Christmas cactus, but neither of them is anything like this. As a matter of fact, the so-called pencil cactus is a Euphorbia. The Christmas cactus is a cactus, but non-native, belonging to the genus Schlumbergera.


    March 5, 2015 at 8:47 AM

    • As usual, I’ve learned about the non-native one(s) from the native one (which I found in September to be native in Arizona as well). And as you pointed out, your pencil cactus isn’t even a cactus. So much for common names, but the supposedly staid and stable world of scientific names often contains hornets’ nests of activity. Just last night I read that as of 2009 the botanical family Asparagaceae has been expanded to include many genera formerly treated as part of the lily family. The Asparagaceae is now so large that it has nine subfamilies in it, one of which includes agave and yucca. Another includes asparagus.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 5, 2015 at 9:45 AM

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