Harvesting cholla wood - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-30-2019, 04:59 PM Thread Starter
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Harvesting cholla wood

Hello, this winter I will be driving through Arizona on a trip and I was wondering if any of you have experience harvesting cholla wood? I understand that it is dead cacti skeleton and cacti are very protected in the state of Arizona however the dead skeletons are not. I looked at an official website and it said the cholla wood is not protected but you should have written permission from the owners of the land before you harvest. I am going to saguaro national park so I guess I can ask a ranger but if I go to BLM land I would like some info. Thanks!

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 02:35 PM
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Saguaro National Park is one of my favorites, but, like all National Parks, you can not legally collect from there.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-04-2019, 06:17 PM Thread Starter
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Oh well. It looks as if we will be near some BLM land. Can I collect there? If not, It isn't that big of a deal.

75 gallon planted tank. About to stock.
10 gallon QT

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-07-2019, 12:50 AM
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I don't know about BLM land.

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-09-2019, 04:07 AM
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According to AZDA.gov

Cactus wood, the skeletal remains of some cacti, is not protected under the Arizona native plant law. However, it is suggested that written permission be obtained from the landowner before entering any private property, especially to remove resources.
Skeletal remains of the Saguaro and Cholla cacti being taken from private, State, and Public lands in Arizona may have an adverse impact on the fragile desert environment. The removal of cactus wood is an increasing practice that may have a cumulative negative effect on wildlife habitats and populations, as well as injury to plant seedlings.
The organic content of the desert soil is very low, and decomposition of cactus remains plays a vital role in maintaining soil fertility. Dead and decaying cactus also provide food and habitat for a wide variety of wildlife and perch sites for raptors. Written authorization from the State Land Department must first be obtained before entering State Trust lands. Questions regarding natural resources on State land, please call the State Land Department at (602) 542-2119. Written authorization for the commercial removal of natural resources from Public Land (Bureau of Land Management, National Forest Service) must first be obtained from the land managing agency. For more information regarding Public Land, please call the Bureau of Land Management at (602) 650-0200 or the National Forest Service at (505) 842-3292 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Remember, open land in Arizona belongs to, or is controlled by someone. Be sure to have written permission in hand before entering any land to remove natural resources.
Again, cactus skeletons (or any dead plant or plant parts) are not protected under the Arizona native plant law. However, we encourage that at least verbal permission be obtained from the landowner before entering private property.
For additional information, please call Scott Schade , Office of Special Investigations at (520) 628-6317, or e-mail at [email protected] azda.gov

Taken from a PDF on their site
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 12:53 AM Thread Starter
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Oh well. Thanks though!

75 gallon planted tank. About to stock.
10 gallon QT

"Do not pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one” – Bruce Lee

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 02:04 AM
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I collect mine on public desert lands around Palm Springs (county lands, not BLM). I find a lot near my friend's house--where people often dump trash, tires, etc. So I'm not too concerned about degrading the already degraded environment there. And I only take some from one area--not all of what I see, leaving the rest for the critters. Lizards, tarantulas, etc like to hide inside, so be careful when you pick it up, and shake it out thoroughly. Tread carefully--cholla country is also rattlesnake country. Used to collect it near another friend's house up near Joshua Tree, until two of his dogs got bitten by a Green Mojave rattler that have much stronger venom and are a lot more aggressive than most rattlers. They nearly died, but $8K in antivenin & ICU bills later they're both alive, though one lost an eye.

Some is newer with the bark still on, and the older stuff is more skeletonized like you see at LFS. But some has been out in the sun so long it's pretty fragile & crumbly, so some with most of the bark gone but not too old is the best stuff to work with. A good soak and spray down with a pressure washer removes any remaining bark, sand, soil, etc. It might float when you first put it in, but it sinks pretty quickly. Java fern loves it.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 03:11 AM
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Aside from the legality of collecting the Cholla skeletons (and the danger of rattlesnakes mentioned above!) watch out for the spines and glochids of Cylindropuntia. They are super unpleasant to get stuck in you or your clothing. I did an inventory of Opuntias when I worked in the glasshouses of NYBG and had to throw away a few sweaters and sweatshirts that got hopelessly full of the painful little buggers.


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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-10-2019, 03:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triport View Post
Aside from the legality of collecting the Cholla skeletons (and the danger of rattlesnakes mentioned above!) watch out for the spines and glochids of Cylindropuntia. They are super unpleasant to get stuck in you or your clothing. I did an inventory of Opuntias when I worked in the glasshouses of NYBG and had to throw away a few sweaters and sweatshirts that got hopelessly full of the painful little buggers.
Good point. There are number of cholla varieties, and most like the Teddy Bear Cholla have pretty straightforward spines. But look out for the Jumping Cholla--which have balls of spines surrounding the stems that will detach & stick to anything that brushes against it. Had a dog get one on his flank that he tried to remove by biting it off. Took half an hour with a pair of needlenose pliers & tweezers to get the barbed fish hook-like spines out of his tongue & gums. Not fun.

The desert can be an inhospitable place, but the cholla sure looks pretty in our tanks....
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-25-2019, 05:16 PM
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I collect in my neighborhood, especially after the city comes through (or right before if I'm lucky and get a tip off) to grate down the area so visibility for driving is safe. They scrape the area clean so getting anything from there is more of a rescue lol!

There are lots of areas like mine which are outstanding for gathering cholla. I've gotten some beautiful pieces! My shrimp especially love them.

For those that add botanicals to their tanks I've been harvesting the seed pods off the tops of burst, dried red yucca. They are visually interesting and perfect size even for smaller tanks! I haven't had anything negative occur from using them. I don't use any part of the actual plant, altho I'm not sure anyone would want to anyway, since it has something in it that makes dogs and cats sick if they eat it. Some people in my fish group use them as botanicals so I thought I would add that for anyone interested.

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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-04-2020, 06:17 PM
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Can any of you share fotos? I have access to all of this right around my Arizona home.

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