Official Colorado Cactus?

A close up photo of the kingcup cactus. A Douglas County Girl Scout troop is seeking official state status for the cactus, which is common in many Colorado counties. (Charlie McDonald, U.S. Forest Service)

I wonder what it means to have official state status for a cactus in Colorado? I would support the troop’s efforts regardless, because who doesn’t want more state-statused-officially-cactus plants? And it’s a pretty cactus plant too so that helps. Always with the pretty plants and the official statuses. Nobody ever approves the ugly plants for state statuses. Or even for county statuses. Why is that?

Eat Your Cactus

Orange County has a lot of prickly pear cactus growing, so the local newspaper, the OC Register, recommends you eat your share of the delicious green vegetable. Not only do they say it’s delicious, but it’s rich in anti-oxidants too. So it must be good!

cactus grill

Strips of grilled cactus leaves taste delicious combined with pepper jack cheese on an open-faced sandwich.
ANGIE CAO

You won’t be able to read the whole article unless you are a OC Register subscriber, which I am not. So I haven’t been able to verify that there recipes are worth the effort. But the picture looks good.

Austin Succulents

Apparently a local Landscape firm in Austin, TX has now opened a Succulent Store.

If an alien race were to land in Austin for the purpose of surveying our dynamic with our natural world, they might surmise that Austinites in particular have a symbiotic relationship with succulents, as it appears nearly no stylish home or business can be caught without a sweet succulent adorning a corner, tabletop, window sill or bedside table….

Austin residents have a recent reason to rejoice (whether you love succulents or not): Austin landscape design + build firm Big Red Sun has reopened their nursery… at 1311 E. Cesar Chavez St. at Navasota.

Nice frontage. I’ll check them out next time I’m in Austin. It’s been a few years.

Mystery Succulents

And the mystery has been solved! But first, the mystery from the Summerville Journal-Seer…

This week’s mystery plant is also a member of the stonecrop family. It belongs to a group, or genus, that is found naturally in warm parts of the world, especially South Africa and southern Asia. Our mystery plant is a native of Madagascar. It produces fabulous tubular, pink (or red) flowers, which dangle on the tall stem. It is extremely easy to grow (as long as it is not overwatered) outside during the summer, but must be brought indoors before frost, or be given a lot of protection, as it is quite cold-sensitive.

It’s a pretty accurate description. Click through for the picture, and scroll down to the bottom of the article for the answer. I wonder where Summerville is? Do you think it’s a suburb of Chicago? They have a lovely Azalea Park. No, it turns out it’s not a suburb of Chicago.

Lincoln Nebraska Likes Cactus

From the local newspaper in Lincoln Nebraska, the Lincoln Star-Journal, comes a story of a small flowering cactus.

Desert Cacti come in all sizes, from ones that barely show in the soil like the LIVING ROCKS (Lithops). They consist of two flat leaves, fused together, with only a slit between them. At maturity, Daisy-like yellow flowers appear from the slit, usually larger than the leaves. When the flowers dry, the “stones” shrivel and a new set appears from the slit. It takes patience to wait for this and you can kill them with too much water.

Now I’m not going to go ahead and correct this little article, but be forewarned that local newspapers often make large botanical errors.

More Old Heirloom Christmas Cactus

Yesterday featured the Crestview Times-Gruff newspaper and their local story of a woman and her ancient christmas cactus. Today we feature not just a local newspaper story, but a video. Yes, a video.

Enjoy!

This video comes courtesy of the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune, and this time I am not making up the name. That name is for real. I love small town papers!

Jean Zieher of Wisconsin Rapids… has a Christmas cactus she’s had for more than 40 years….

“Old Man Cactus” is a large plant, with red-toned blossoms tugging at its leaves. Blossoming plants might not seem unusual. But this one? It’s likely more than 70 years old….

While it might not be a family tree, the plant has a history. Jean’s grandmother, Katherine Schenk, originally had the plant.

And the article came with a pun! A pun! (See italics above.)

Christmas Cactus Keeps Blooming

I love small town newspapers.

Crestview woman’s Christmas cactus covered in 200-plus blooms

You’ll need to click through to the Crestview Times-Picayune, or maybe it was the Crestview Daily-Reader or wait, no that wasn’t right, it was the Crestview World-Globe? Crestview News-Bulletin? Crestview Advertiser? Anyway, just click through for the picture of the old lady who has kept her mother’s heirloom christmas cactus alive for over 100 years. And the picture includes an inset of a Venus Fly Trap for some reason. I can’t find any reference in the article to the carnivorous plant in the Crestview woman’s collection, so I don’t know why the picture is there. Go ahead and take a look! You’ll see! It’s “Interesting”!

Freezing Weather Got You Down? Plant Succulents in Boston

There is no such thing as too many succulents, so if you’re a fan of the prickly plant and the cool planters that come with them, Niche Garden Supply on Tremont Street has just the workshop for you. On Wednesday evening, bring your own container/planter/whatever to design a centerpiece (a perfect gift) at 7pm. The course fee is $20 plus materials.

I wonder which Wednesday they are referring to? Is the event already past? I should probably check this out for you before I post an event for you to go to in this freezing weather and all. Imagine going out in sub-zero temperatures only to find out the Succulent Workshop was last week! That would be horrible!

Actually, it’s not clear to me from their website when the workshop was, or is. I don’t know. And since I am not a reporter I wouldn’t think of calling them to check this story out in advance. Ridiculous!

Cactus Fences Make Good Neighbors

The Desert Sun has a suggestion of what to do with all your spare cactus. Make a fence! They have good ideas for using some of the taller prickly pear species, or if you prefer the more modern look they recommend a few different column cactus that will work for fences. Like the Fencepost Cactus, of course.

One first-hand account from mission days explained the cactus fence solved the problem of little suitable timber in coastal Southern California. The cactus fence was devised as a substitute. They were started by cutting paddles from well established cactus that reach the height desired. They’re inserted into the ground in a tightly spaced row where they root and grow quickly if watered. Prickly pear fences were not only perfect for containing livestock; they effectively protected the homestead from hostiles. No living thing on this Earth will penetrate a dense prickly pear hedge.

The cleanest living fences are made of fence post cactus, Pachycereus marginatus. These minimally spined upright cactus stems are ramrod straight, making the most amazing green walls. The best example I’ve ever seen was at the ethnobotanical garden in Oaxaca, Mexico where the fences are crisp and straight.

We use a giant cholla for fencing, both at the nursery and at home. Austrocylindropuntia subulata makes for a very good fence. Very spiny. Fast growing. Dangerous to try to breach. And pretty magenta flowers too. What more could you want?

opuntia_subulata5

Saving Cactus

In Arizona they are saving the Saguaros one RFID tag at a time.

(S)eeing saguaros disappear from federal lands, Saguaro National Park came up with a modern solution: radio frequency chips.

With the territory so vast and little chance of catching thieves in the act, land managers insert tiny chips into cactus bodies so they can track them down if stolen.

“We’ve literally chipped hundreds of saguaros we think are in at-risk areas — the size and location that could put them at a high risk of being poached,” said Paul Austin, chief ranger at Saguaro National Park, who said cactus poaching has declined since chipping began about five years ago.

Saguaros are Carnegiea gigantea of course. Named for the Robber Baron Carnegie, they are the only plant in the genus and no one has the courage to move it to another genus of plants to which they are closely related. Of course, most botanists would refer to Andrew Carnegie as a Philanthropist, which might be why they’ve kept the name.

Bright and Colorful Cactus

The El Paso Times has an interesting way to illustrate an article about very colorful cactus for sale at a local cactus show.

Learn to grow, care for colorful natives at club’s Cactus Fiesta and Plant Sale

Nice!

But anyway, the sale was last month so you have already missed it. I have fallen down on my job of informing you in a timely fashion of all the latest cactus club sales throughout the greater West Texas region.

Broken Saguaro

From the Green Valley News Tribune Record and Sun comes news of a broken Saguaro. It seems to have been hit by a  car, but probably after it fell. If it fell on a car then the picture would still have the car under the Saguaro.

Pima County Sheriff’s Auxiliary members wait for a cleanup crew to show up in the 1200 block of North Abrego Drive about 7 a.m. Tuesday, in the Country Club of Green Valley. A saguaro fell into the road and apparently was hit by a car sometime in the night, according to the Green Valley Fire District.

Those look like some very shallow roots. No wonder it fell over.

Prickly Pear Pests

It doesn’t look good for Israel’s National Fruit, imported from the Americas a long time ago. Hint: It’s a cactus.

Israel’s Iconic Sabra Cactus Endangered by Invading Aphids

Israel, being on the “land bridge” that links it with Africa and Asia Minor, has always been well known for a number of biblical fruits….

Now, this national plant symbol is being threatened by the invasion of a species of parasitic aphid that has been attacking Sabra cactus plants in the far north of the country and threatens to spread over other parts of Israel as well….

Sabra fruit is harvested in late summer and is often sold in roadside fruit kiosks in both Israel and in the Palestinian Authority. The fruit is best served chilled and it is recommended that one wear gloves when peeling them to avoid being stuck by numerous cactus spines.

Excellent advice.

Cactus Questions

The Times Herald Tribune Record prints interesting cactus questions from their readers.

Q: What is the difference between a Thanksgiving cactus and a Christmas cactus?… — Sara, Eldred

A…. The Thanksgiving cactus generally begins flowering in mid- to late November and continues into December….

The Christmas cactus normally begins to flower about Christmas and continues flowering into January.

That was easy! I could answer newspaper questions too! Someone, quick, get me a column! I want at least 25 column inches every week!

Desert Cactus

The Arizona Desert Sun has an article about planting naturalistic plantings next to modern lined out plantings and they use this photo as an example. I find that odd. Here’s the caption that goes with it.

This view shows the naturalistic plantings beside the grids of golden barrels proving a combination of both may be the most sustainable design solution. / Maureen Gilmer/Special to The Desert Sun

I don’t understand where the naturalistic plantings are that are near the grid of Golden Barrels? Is it the lawns? The square pathways? What is this article talking about? The random Cleistocactus or the random tree placed among the barrels? Who knows. According to the article:

A landscape that depends on one species to establish its primary visual character may appear profoundly beautiful in its simplicity. These monocultures are all too common in many of the contemporary landscapes I’ve seen throughout America. I study them closely to keep up with design trends for new and restored, modern and mid-century home landscapes.

Ahhh, now I understand. The writer is using the word “naturalistic” to mean “not a monoculture.” Interesting!

And the picture is nice!

Spiny Cactus in Africa

Cactus are just like any other exotic plant – they can become invasive and a pest. In Africa there were Opuntias that were planted for the fruit and the flowers and now they are killing the local livestock.

The National Environment Management Authority has said it will issue a licence for the release of an insect that will feed on a cactus that kills their livestock in Laikipia county….

Wahungu said there are set procedures to be followed to release the insects as they have never been used in Kenya. He cautioned that this will be an experiment and any biological release can bring unexpected repercussions. Wahungu said they will not leave anything to chance.

The residents led by Laikipia North MP Mathew Lempurkel said they have lost thousands of livestock after they feed on the fruits of the opuntia type of cactus, which have sharp tiny thorns that damage the intestines of the animals leading to death.

Unfortunately I am skeptical of this type of pest eradication effort. I don’t think it will end well.

Cactus Art

spite-house-riverton-utah

Is it art? Is it a cactus? Is it a bird-flipping?

RIVERTON – Maybe it’s a hand flipping the bird – or it could be a cactus.

For three families, it’s just another dispute in a yearlong battle over a house being built along Reeves Lane in this southwest Salt Lake Valley community.

Owner Darren Wood described the vent covering placed Monday as decorative “abstract art” and a “cactus.” But his neighbors uphill say it’s a hand flipping them off.

“This kind of shows the attitude that we’ve been dealing with all along,” said Stan Torgersen, who added that the gesture is visible from every window on the back of his house….

That was an old article, from 2006, as seen on Balloon Juice for some reason.

Cactus Lights

The famed Ethel Chocolate Cactus Lighting has begun and will be lighting the cactus nightly through the holidays.

The Las Vegas Review Journal published a picture of the people with 3D glasses marvelling at all the pretty cactus that have been lit up for the holidays and they don’t show the cactus.

web1_CACTUSLIGHTING_111213DB_002_2

Visitors Sienna Tobler, 10, left, and Katie Kriey, 7 use 3D glasses to admire the lights as Mary Ann O’Reilly looks on during the 20th annual Holiday Cactus Lighting at Ethel M Chocolates Cactus Garden on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013. The three-acre garden features more than half a million lights decorating cactus of all types. The lighted gardens are scheduled to be open nightly until Jan. 1. (David Becker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Interesting! Still, it is an interesting sight if you can get to Vegas before they turn the lights out for the new year.

SoCal Cactus

Winter growing cactus and succulents that will grow in the Southern California winters are being featured next week.

“Winter Growers”
Presented by Tom Glavich

Tom Glavich will give us a presentation of the Winter growers from three Mediterranean regions around the world, South Africa, the Mediterranean coast and islands, and the coast of California and Northern Mexico. Cultivation and growing conditions are discussed along with pictures of old friends and rarely seen rarities.

The San Gabriel Valley Cactus & Succulent Society November 14 at 7:30 pm Ayers Hall, Los Angeles County Arboretum, Arcadia

Endangered Florida Cactus

cactus

On Nov. 25, a seldom-seen Southwest Florida cactus species will be listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service…

“It was probably never super-abundant,” wildlife service botanist David Bender said. “Of the populations known historically, they’ve declined from numbers in the hundreds to double or single digits.”

Also known as prickly apple cactus, west coast prickly apple and yellow prickly apple, the aboriginal prickly apple is found on coastal berms and spoil mounds, Indian shell mounds, maritime hammocks and coastal grasslands.

The cactus, by the way, is the Harrisia aboriginum

New Website is Up!

I’ve gone ahead and revamped our Cactus Jungle website. Phew!

cactus jungle website

We have over 1400 plant pages and over 4000 images, so they haven’t all been updated yet, but the rest of the site is fully new and revised and the plant pages will follow behind over the next few weeks. 1400 is a lot of pages to update!

Cactus Costumes, Part 1

Every year I post the best of the Cactus Costumes I find around the nets. These are not my costumes, I don’t make them I don’t sell them I don’t own them. I borrow the pictures so you can enjoy the sights of the best of the Cactus Costumes every year. Like this year!!!

cactus costume1

First up is Laura D. out of Washington. Nice! How did she get those giant curved arms to stay up?

cactus costume2

Here’s one that looks like it was once for sale at a store, but the page doesn’t exist anymore, just the image remains online. Looks like it was a very reasonably priced costume with flowers attached.

cactus costume3

And finally for today we have a Quilter’s pair of cute little kids! Oh, and they’re wearing homemade cactus costumes. If you click through the link you can also find the amazing Blowfish Costumes.

Cactus Socks

cactus socks

Who wears cactus socks? Why it’s a presidentially famous Friend of Bill Clinton who donated them to charity. You’ll have to click through to see whose legs are attached to those feet. And the uncropped picture even shows all the way up to the face.

Portsmouth Cactus

I understand the Portsmouth Cactus Show was a big hit this year, at least according to the Portsmouth Press. I wonder if that is the Portsmouth in New Hampshire or in old Hampshire.

THERE was plenty of plants to be proud of when the Portsmouth & district branch of The British Cactus and Succulent Society held their popular Autumn Cactus Show.

A photographic exhibition made up part of the event at Christ Church Hall, Widley, while there was also plant sales and a chance for enthusiasts to catch up with friends.

Well that answers that question. If it’s in a town called Widley its in England.

Here we see the first prize winner showing of her first prize winning cactus for the press, the Portsmouth Press.

Agave Tequilana

From the L.A. Times website, after critiquing their modern cactus photo yesterday, I happened upon this Blue Agave photo and article.

At the Stanford Avalon community garden in Los Angeles, Norma Garcia picked up a blue agave leaf nearly 3 feet long that she planned to roast on a dry, hot griddle. Once she had burned the outside, she would juice the flesh, getting about 2 cups of liquid from the leaf.

This paragraph may be taken out of context from the whole article, but it kind of does that by itself anyway, so the mystery of the paragraph is real. Click through and check it out yourself.

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