Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Sir David Attenborough spiked by ‘vicious spines’ of cactus in The Green Planet


Sir David Attenborough was spiked by the “vicious spines” of a cactus while filming an episode for his latest documentary series The Green Planet.

The veteran broadcaster can be seen plunging his hand into a teddy bear cholla cactus and, despite wearing a layered protective glove, he gets a nasty jab from one of the spines piercing through.

The 95-year-old experienced the prickly encounter while filming in the Sonoran desert in Arizona for the series’ episode which explores deserts around the world.

Sir David receiving treatment (BBC/PA)

The show describes the teddy bear cholla as having the “ultimate protection” as it has a “fuzzy coating of vicious spines” to warn off predators.

Its spines also have backwards-facing barbs which can easily penetrate the skin, meaning animals avoid it.

Speaking about the plant during the Desert Worlds episode, Sir David said: “The cholla is a real physical danger.

“If you walked into a cholla cactus, it has very dense spines in rosettes, so they point in all directions.

“And if you just brush against it, the spines are like spicules of glass, I mean they are that sharp.”

The naturalist explained it is very difficult to get the spines out, and he was speaking from experience as he had faced the task for himself while filming the episode.

A video clip from the encounter sees Sir David putting on a large protective glove before approaching the plant and noting that he “wouldn’t dream” of putting his hand anywhere near it without proper protection.

The broadcaster then plunges his hand into the cholla cactus and he exclaims out in pain as the buds latch onto the glove.

He explained that, despite his precaution, one of the spines had pierced through and spiked him in his hand, saying: “It’s quite painful. This is not pleasant at all.”

Sir David added: “The cholla is an active aggressor, really. You feel you are having a bad time, you better watch out.”

The episode also showcases how one animal, the packrat, is able to climb the cholla, pick up the joints and drag them off to defend its nest.

The rodent will then chew off the spines to get at the watery flesh inside.

The Green Planet continues this Sunday at 7pm on BBC One and iPlayer

Already a subscriber? Sign in