Tiny Spines, Hours of Fun

Today’s question comes from concerned parents. Well, not so concerned that they didn’t ask the question before the son had taken care of the problem.

Q: My son recently dug out a cactus while landscaping. The lady told him the neighbors called it “the cactus from hell”. When he was done he had tiny needles, the size of a hair, all over his body and around his head and neck, even though he never touched the cactus, except with a shovel. It took him hours to get all of the needles out, and had to throw away his shoes, they were covered in them. This happened in Indiana. What kind of cactus is it? Thank you.
Jim and Joy

A: Jim and/or Joy,
Opuntia microdasys is most likely. The spines will go aerosol when you
whack it with a shovel. It is also known as the Cow-Blinder cactus, and
we spray it with soapy water before we handle it.

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June 2020

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