Monday, March 26, 2012

Hazards Of Curiosity

The Fishhook Barrel Cactus has bright yellow fruit. My first taste check was several years ago. On the recent Tucson hikes, there were opportunities to share the taste with fellow hikers. Most were reluctant, but a few overcame their fear of something that wasn't found at the grocer. To me the taste was like kiwi-apple. However, I have noted variations from one to another. In the most recent tasting, it was more apple taste. That was the consensus of those who took the taste test.


On another hike, I decided that I would check out the fruit of the Jumping Cholla. Some -- incorrectly -- call it the Chain Fruit Cholla. Nothing fruity about it. Being curious what it might taste like, I looked carefully at some of the "fruit" dangling at the end. Making sure (without my reading glasses) there were no spines, I pulled off the end fruit. There were no large spines, but some invisible spines did manage to embed in my finger tips. That was enough to keep me from a taste. Couldn't see the spines in the finger tips, but they were there. Once at home, an emery board was used to abrade the skin of finger tips where those spines could be felt. That resolved that problem.


Resolved never to taste Cholla again. Don't say never.

Hiking a trail in Usery Mtn Park, I found several older gentlemen (older than me by perhaps a decade) closely examining a Jumping Cholla. One of those gentleman said they were edible. I said, "Not". At that point one of the guys pulled off a very small end fruit, handled it and offered to his buddies. All refused and then offered to me. After a brief examination, I took a very small bite. Looked and tasted like gelatinous green. After relating my taste impressions, they hiked away. I headed in the opposite direction, and realized that bite was not going to get any smaller. Spitting it out, I realized there were some spines in my lip. No emery in my pocket and a long time before I was home, I ran my tongue back and forth over the lip as I continued my hike. Not sure why that worked, but eventually the spines were no longer felt.

Did those guys put something over on this youngster. Did they know. For me it was learning experience. Curiosity can be hazardous.


  1. That is so funny, but not really. I had prickly pear in my Tucson front yard and had the same experience.

  2. I cannot believe that you tried the fruit of the fishhook barrel cactus! While the fruit of the saguaro and other cacti are rapidly eaten by the birds, the FBC fruit seems to stay on the cactus for a looooong time. I just figured the birds hated it or else it was poisonous. You are one brave dude!

  3. Living up to your "label" i see...
    Curiosity kills some "cats" you know :))

  4. My thought might have been that the prickers on the cactus were trying to tell me something. I would not have tried them, but hey, I am a metro New York girl and we learn caution and watchfulness early, lol. And, although I would not have tried them, I like the fact that you did. Be careful out there.

  5. HaHa... To the Bold goes the Glory! and the Best Life! HooYa! Lloyd! :) but the prickly pear gives the best Jam ;)

  6. I'm ok with trying new stuff but NOT WITHOUT MY GLASSES! Jeez, you do like living on the edge. LOL Glad you survived.

  7. Hi, just read your story on Marks Daily Apple and came over to read your blog...what fun to read about your adventures. I sent your blog to my husband and told him "we could do this!" After 35 years, he is frustrated and stressed like never before with his job (IT, project management). So I am going to start reading up on 5th wheels, trucks, etc and see if we can swing early "retirement". I liked your FAQ page; have wondered how to set up a residence somewhere while you're on the road. We've lived in Colorado and Az (besides NC and Ga) and my husband LOVES hiking...maybe we should go back out there before we're too old to hike. You have inspired me to do more than just wish we could. Also, I sent your grain-free story to my brother who is considering the paleo diet for his health. Thanks for sharing your story.
    Sandy in Georgia

  8. "I ran my tongue back and forth over the lip as I continued my hike. Not sure why that worked, but eventually the spines were no longer felt."

    I'm guessing that your saliva softened them up and they eventually dissolved. When dogs get into cholla and then get the thorns in their mouth that is what happens with them.


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