Walk in the Sonoran Desert, contd.
It makes my friends, old and new, a wee bit tense that I go barefoot everywhere, even in the desert. But I walk in sandy washes and avoid the areas where cholla grows. Nonetheless, I did tread upon a cholla piece when I was focused on taking a photo of a group of mammillaria. No pain until I attempted to remove it with my fingers. Ouch! Deep pricks in my fingers! Betsy gave me two sticks and I was able to un-cholla my foot. When Donna came in the afternoon, she brought a gift of a white sage and turpentine-bush (Ericameria laricifolia) salve. Good to prevent infection. I used it on my fingertips and applied some to my foot as well. All healed.
Prickly pear (Opuntia)
This is the cactus to eat. The one without the obvious spikes, that is. Don’t try eating this other one, though they are both prickly pear cacti. Only the smooth one is nopale. It is not without protection, so don’t get your bare hands on it. There are very small, very fine thorns, called glochids, on it. They can be removed, and the interior flesh eaten cooked or raw. It is tasty, if a bit slimy. I like it best marinated.
Creosote bush (Larrea tridentata)
This is one of the biggest medicines of the Sonoran Desert. When I arrived, it had just rained and the smell of creosote bush permeated the air. Diluted, like that, it is pleasant. Not so when made into a tea or tinctured. Why would one drink something that tastes like an old ashtray? Because it is said to help remove cancer cells from the body!
Wild tobacco (Nicotiana rustica)
I am told this wild tobacco is too poisonous even to smoke. It grows rampantly along the disturbed banks of washes. If I had a garden here, I would encourage wild tobacco to grow along the edges to ward off the hordes of insects that thrive in arid-area gardens.
~ Desert Walk, contd. ~