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Biological Survey of Ironwood Forest National Monument

Cactus "Forests"

Photographs: Mark Dimmitt

A dense band of jumping or chainfruit chollas (Cylindropuntia fulgida) almost surrounds the Pan Quemado Mountains.
There are a few colonies of other chollas. At left above is a hillside of buckhorn chollas (Cyl. acanthocarpa) in the Pan Quemado Mountains. At right is a colony of teddy bear chollas (C. bigelovii) in the West Silver Bell Mountains.

Few areas in IFNM have many prickly pears, but this area west of the Sawtooth Mountains is thick with Opuntia engelmannii. Another gallery showcases this unusual cactus dune.

Saguaros (Carnegiea gigantea) are the visually dominant plant in much of IFNM because of their abundance and the fact that they stand taller than most of the trees. This is a bajada of the Silver Bell Mountains looking toward Ragged Top.
The surrounding four images show a few examples of the many saguaro forests in IFNM. Clockwise from upper left: Ragged Top, Silver Bell Mountains, Waterman Mountains, and Silver Bells again.

Above and right: Barrel cactus populations are rarely dense. Some limestone slopes of the Waterman Mountains have impressive colonies of California fire barrel (Ferocactus cylindraceus).