These photos were shot a couple of weeks ago when Rose Ramirez and I went to Anza Borrego Desert State Park at the end of February. The cholla above are on the hillside near the Cactus Look Trail across from the Tamarisk Grove campground.
Cholla buds. Last year when I was at the Tohono O’odham Reservation for an edible foods and basketry gathering, we were served sautéed cholla buds mixed with tepary beans and onions. TOCA, Tohono O’odham Community Action, sells packages of the tepary beans and dried cholla buds as well. The buds are hand picked, cleaned of their thorns, and then sun dried for use year-round. Cholla buds are high in calcium. They’re very low on the glycemic index, and help to regulate blood sugar levels. They’re also delicious. Cleaning the thorns looks like an extremely labor-intensive process.
At dawn, we drove the Palo Verde Wash out to Vista del Malpais, a viewpoint for the Borrego Badlands, where we photographed the hummingbird sipping nectar from the flowers of the ocotillo, Fouquieria splendens.
According to Lowell John Bean and Katherine Siva Saubel in Temalpakh, Cahuilla people ate the edible blossoms, which were
. . . eaten fresh or soaked in water to make a summer drink. The drink was slightly bitter, yet pungently pleasant. Soon after blossoming, seed pods became available for more food. The seeds were parched and ground into a flour from which mush or cakes were made.
Below is a closeup of the unopened ocotillo flowers.
Ocotillo in full bloom at Vista del Malpais.
Anza Borrego Badlands.