May 2008

Travel31 May 2008 11:18 am

This looks like it’s from Arizona, maybe into New Mexico, but no. It is from right here in the giant megalopolis urban Bay Area. In Santa Clara. Must be old.

Whippets31 May 2008 11:00 am

Aunt Rachel spends a lot of time in the desert, and sent us this nature shot. It looks to me like a hare.

Misc31 May 2008 07:31 am

Here’s the 3rd picture “borrowed” from the Arizona Daily Star‘s article about David Yetman’s new book, “The Great Cacti: Ethnobotany and Biogeography.”

“I’m always sort of perplexed by how few people who have lived in the desert for a long time have not eaten a saguaro fruit. It’s the consistency of a fig but sweet and very tasty. Not only is it delicious, it’s really good for you. . . . Look at how abundant they are. You begin to understand how the Tohono O’odham considered this a miraculous occurrence. It’s not necessarily the easiest thing in the world to gather. So the O’odham devised various collecting sticks to get them off of there. But it is a gift of nature to desert people.”

Blogs30 May 2008 04:12 pm

Travel Snippets went to the Galapagos Islands and took some decent shots of some cactus in the dry season. There’s a nice shot of a tree prickly pear at the coast in silhouette.

Whippets30 May 2008 02:03 pm

Benjamin and Jaxx at the beach on a hot day, running wild.

Berkeley Succulents30 May 2008 11:50 am

McKinley Ave
Echinocereus grandiflora

Here we have an arm from a cactus that had so many blooms, it broke under the weight. I feel like there could be a fairy tale about the cactus that tried to bloom too much. We could call the cactus Pokey; and the other main character, the cactus that bloomed just the right amount, we’ll call Pimsey.

Maybe we should have an evil Queen, Vordella, and a shining Knight by the name of Silmark. Vordella controls the Cholla Army while Silmark, speaking in cactus, requests the help of the Hedgehogs. A battle ensues, but Pokey is more interested in playing with the snails and slugs and doesn’t realize when Vordella, using mind tricks, convinces him to help the nasty Chollas gain access to the Hedgehog store of gold.

Well, you get the idea. You can finish the fairy tale in the comments.

Misc30 May 2008 07:28 am

Here’s another picture “borrowed” from the Arizona Daily Star‘s article about David Yetman’s new book, “The Great Cacti: Ethnobotany and Biogeography.”

“They get maybe 20 feet tall. Here they’re growing toward the southern end of their habitat. This is a royal plant. I’ve actually visited this particular plant on numerous occasions.”

Blogs29 May 2008 03:05 pm

Patch of Earth found a wagon on Craigslist and filled it with cactus and succulents. Photos ensued.

I see a peperomia, an echeveria, an epiphyllum, aporocatus, and so much more.

Berkeley Succulents29 May 2008 11:45 am

McKinley Ave.
Echinocereus grandiflora

I caught this late in the day when the blooms are already starting to close for the evening. It’s pretty amazing what these hedgehogs can do. I counted over 2,000,000 blooms on this one, before giving up.

Questions29 May 2008 09:04 am

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.

Misc29 May 2008 07:27 am

The Arizona Daily Star lets us know about a new book with holy-moley-fabulous pictures.

It’s David Yetman’s new book,

“The Great Cacti: Ethnobotany and Biogeography,” is a treasure trove of photos taken by Yetman of exotic, often hard-to-find specimens in Central and South America.

I’m going to be “borrowing” a few photos from the Daily Star, which republished them from the book, over the next few days.

“It’s actually a relative of the saguaro. These grow so densely you literally can’t walk through them. They are somewhat parallel to the saguaro in importance to the local people. . . . They make a salsa from the fruit which is very good, very different.”

News28 May 2008 03:42 pm

Apparently the Chelsea Garden Show this year had a green theme, and they’re looking into cactus and succulents.

Climate change was very much on gardeners’ minds at (the) Chelsea Flower Show, the fashionable high point in the British gardening season. Designers looked for inspiration from warmer, drier climes – southern France, Australia and Chile – for a future which is thought to augur wetter winters, more erratic rainfall and extended droughts….

Palm trees in a London park? Cactus in an English cottage garden?

Anything’s possible if you put your mind to it. The key is to rethink what a cottage garden can be, rather than just assume you already know. For instance, there are some very nice Aeoniums that are very cottagey.

News28 May 2008 01:37 pm

From the Deccan (India) Herald, comes a story about a Saguaro and sharing. I promised Hap I wouldn’t insult any articles today, so I’m passing this along without comment.

Gilded Flickers create holes for nests in Saguaros. Flickers excavate larger holes higher on the stem, penetrating the ribs. Their holes sometimes cause enough damage to cause death and other problems….

We now know that this thorny cactus offers food and shelter to the creatures of the desert but above all this selfless giant inspires you to believe that – Sharing and caring make life truly laudable.

Must… Not… Comment…

Questions28 May 2008 10:28 am

We Get Questions always prefers to have pictures to go a long with the questions, and here we have a nice portrait of a cactus.

I have had a cactus for approximately fourteen years. I was living in Chicago when I bought him and currently reside in Fremont (northern) CA. I love “Borus” and have only recently discovered that he is a Cereus Montrose. I have always kept him in a clay pot until 1 1/2 years ago when I transplanted him to a plastic pot because of his size. He is now 4″1″ tall from the base of the pot. He is currently in a pot which is 22 1/2″ diameter and 21″ tall. Unfortunately I keep him outside. In the winter I have put him in the garage during rain and at night when the weather is cold.

I would like to know if I should transplant him. His pot is cracked and his top roots are as wide as the pot on one side and 1/2″ from the side on the other. I do not know how deep his roots are since I can”t lift the pot. I have been looking for a clay pot but can’t find one any larger than the one he is in.

I did find a ceramic pot which is somewhat bowl shaped, 22″ in diameter on top, but 26″ three inches down. I know he should be transplanted into a pot two inches larger, but would five inches hurt? I found the internet to be too expensive for pots and could not find the right size.

Attached, are some photos of him. He has never flowered. I didn’t know he would flower. I thought I was caring for him properly. but now know I was wrong. I did recently water him with Cactus Juice fertilizer a few weeks ago and have noticed the top branches which were getting soft, have hardened up a bit. His yellow tinted color has also faded a bit.

Please look at the attached pictures and advise me on what to do to make him a healthier and happier cactus. He has been with me for so long, I would be heartbroken if anything should happen to him. I don’t know if your answer will be on the internet or you will send me an email? I’m new at this. Thank you in advance.


Your Cereus monstrose would be happy with a much larger pot, though clay would be best, plastic just holds too much water in the winter. A five inch jump is not too much for a plant that size. You could also plant
him in the ground in Fremont (where he would soon become a tree) as long as you amended the soil so he had good drainage. Cereus like yours are hardy enough to be happy planted outside in the Bay Area. My own Cereus monstrose in planted in a raised planter in my Berkeley backyard and handled 25 degrees without damage.

Yours looks like he could use a bit of fertilizer and minerals and that should green up the yellowing. We use slow release organic nutrients with great results, cactus are slow growers so they like slow food as well. If you use a chemical fertilizer only use it a low strength and not very often. Make sure to use a fast draining soil without a lot of organic material.

Good Luck,

News28 May 2008 07:28 am

…are causing damage in National Forests. What can be done? Well…

TONTO NATIONAL FOREST – Surrounded by illegal off-highway vehicle trails, this one patch, with a replanted cactus taking root, marks an effort repair at least some of the desert near Mesa.

Boy Scouts planted the cactus and several others dotting this landscape, and groups representing riders, hikers and others often volunteer to help repair damage off-highway vehicles cause here.

Another solution is to stop riding over cactus, and stick to the trails, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

News27 May 2008 02:29 pm

No, I’m not posting any scenes from the Sonoran Desert, for crying out loud. I live in California – we post scenes of the Mojave Desert, and sometimes the Great Basin.

It’s the Seattle PI telling you how to make your own little Sonoran Desert scene in a pot.

Don’t let the lack of eaves stop you from enjoying the Sonora at your home. Start with a low bowl-shaped container. Make sure there are plenty of drainage holes and fill the container with cactus soil (available at most garden centers). Now for the real fun: Shop for cactuses, agaves and other succulents at your favorite quality nursery or indoor plant store. The contrasting forms, textures and colors of the desert plants will provide lots of variety to play with. Create a realistic desert landscape look by adding rugged colorful stones between the planted succulents…. Display your desert container in a protected, out-of-the-way, full-sun location where visitors can enjoy it without having to get uncomfortably close to the prickly plants.

Man, that’s some stupid advice. “Create a realistic desert landscape”! Most people aren’t designers and can’t do it. If the instructions aren’t paint-by-numbers quality, they’ll fail. They want your help, Seattle PI, and you’re not helping.

News27 May 2008 12:22 pm

Now even the Macon (GA) Telegraph is getting into the act. Man, cactus must be popular these days that every podunk newspaper in the country is printing cactus bloom photos. And I’m reposting every single one of them for you.

Diana Baldrica, MCT. Horse-crippler cactus.

You know it would be easy for me to quote from the article too, but I don’t think you really care about what the Macon telegraph has to say about cactus, so I am saving you the trouble of passing over their text. You can thank me in the comments.

News27 May 2008 10:15 am

Well, the flowers are beautiful and the plants are easy to take care of, but the Los Angeles Times says no one cares.

Ringo H.W. Chiu / For The Times
Epiphyllum ‘Scoop of Raspberry’

The orchid cactus might be called the Cinderella of the garden world. Most of the year the plant, with disheveled, arched, trailing branches, is easy to ignore. But from February through June, magnificent flowers, some as large as 13 inches across, pop from the notched branches in brilliant shades of red, orange, violet, yellow and gold….

There are 13,000 hybrids registered by the Epiphyllum Society of America….

But mention epiphyllum and most people’s eyes glaze over.

Well, gee, mention 13,000 hybrids and of course eyes are glazing over. Mine are, and I like them.

Questions27 May 2008 08:14 am

Well, it may be a little too late for that, what with the pictures.

Hi, I called a few weeks ago about my cactus, attached are photos. I just moved from Richmond to Martinez and my cactus started turning a beautiful deep red color on one side but now it has a disturbing orange stripe down the center. Is it ok? Thank you in advance for your help.


Your Euphorbia looks like it has both sunburn/sun-stress and a fungal infection. The red is sun and the orange/brown/black is a sign of a fungus infection. I suggest spraying it with Neem Oil at 1 or 2%
solution. This will hopefully stop the infection. Spray to the point of run off, in the evening, not morning or afternoon as the oil can add to the sunburn. Respray after a week.

Good Luck,

Berkeley Succulents27 May 2008 07:12 am

Grant Street
Aloe nobilis with some Aeoniums in the background.

Some very scenic grass and rocks in the foreground. These aloes are just starting to send up bloomstalks, not yet visible in these photos. The rocks are just starting to sprout their own spring stalks, also not visible to the camera, or to the human eye. But what I like best about this photo is the child off-camera to the left who is riding her bicycle along the pathway created between 2 spectacular 25′ tall tree Aloes that have been growing here. clearly, for over 75 years. Wow.

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