Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Paper Cuts?

This Paper Spine Cactus (Tephrocactus articulatus var. papyracanthus) has been growing like a weed since I planted it in my garden in March. I don’t find it attractive, but it’s different enough from all my globular and columnar cacti that I wanted to add it to the garden.

In April, I thought it was developing flower buds, but it was actually growing five new pinecone shaped segments, which immediately grew many thin, flexible white papery spines. Although the spines are forgiving, the edges of the spines can give a painful paper cut if touched just right. Because of its unusual spines, it is occasionally used as a houseplant, and it does well as long as it has adequate bright light.

A problem with the Paper Spine Cactus and other Tephrocactus articulatus varieties is that the segments break apart very easily, so the cactus doesn’t get very tall or wide. Those separated segments readily root on their own, so if you don’t want a yard full of them they need to gathered up and given away as potted houseplants to unsuspecting relatives and friends.

“Some lives, like evening primroses, blossom most beautifully
in the evening of life.”
~ C.E. Cowen

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