Cactuses Shine Brighter Than Ever

Each teddy bear cholla is unique. This species of cactus releases pads and barbs that are carried on the wind to patches of soil where they will take root and grow.

Credit Caity Fares for The New York Times

ANZA BORREGO, Calif. — A cactus in bloom is pure poetry — particularly that famous line by Walt Whitman: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself.”

In the desert here, the thick, spine-studded paddles of a beavertail cactus look as surly as always, ready to smack you into next week if you get within striking distance….