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Weed'em & Reap Cacti Delecti was not what I thought.

Posted Friday, August 21, 2009, at 4:49 PM

The garden club meets tonight and since someone asked for some cactus cuttings in addition to the houseplants, my headline seemed appropriate, but I did some checking.

It turns out that neither cacti delecti nor cacti delicti has much meaning to what I was trying to say. Cacti Delecti when googled is a Western Swing band, and Cacti Delicti goes to some references about peyote.

Now I know peyote is a form a cactus VERY popular in the 60's, the cacti I plan to bring are no relation. Sorry if I got anyone extra interested.

At any rate, the picture below is what I am bringing. They are easy to plant in a warm, semi dry area and even easier to grow. I don't do anything but cut them back so they don't grab me when I walk past them.

These are not real thorny, but I don't suggest handling them without gloves. I have a few others that would get you even with gloves, but these I handle with steel utensils.

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i am not a prickly pear expert, but had a lot of experience with them as a kid out west. The "leaves" are edible, but i dont remember them as anything to write home about. the fruits that grow on all the varieties i know about are better than the leaves, but still nothing special. as for growing them around here, there are a type of prickly pears growing wild in rocky areas around shelbyville, so if they can grow here i imagine your variety will also. the biggest problem you will have is if they stay too wet. plant them over shallow bedrock, in a well drained area (where the soil will dry out quickly). or put them in a pot & put it where they will get a lot of sun, but infrequently be reached by the rain.

one warning. altho there are no visible thorns, those little brown or red "hairy" patches on the leaves and fruits are clumps of thousands of tiny thorns which come out easily and can get all over you. they are disproportionately painful and itchy, i was told as a kid that they had a "poison" on them. should you plan to eat any part of the plant, skin it, and be certain that all the micro-thorns are gone. should you get the micro-thorns in your hands (and sooner or later you will) the way i was taught to remove them was to "lather" them with mud and shave them off with a pocket knife. the mud supposedly neutralized the "poison" and shaving them off kept the protruding part from snagging on everything & irritating their point of insertion. dont know if the reasons behind it were factual, but it works. pulling them out one by one is well nigh impossible if you grab or bump against one of the leaves.

-- Posted by lazarus on Tue, Aug 25, 2009, at 4:53 PM

Not aware of poisonous forms of cactus, but some succulents, including the candelabras cactus, are poisonus. This one looks like a cactus, but isn't to the best of my knowledge.

-- Posted by kentflanagan on Tue, Aug 25, 2009, at 12:05 PM

Deb comes from West Texas and these came from Van Horn on one of our many trips. I was not sure they would hold up in our climate, but they are planted on the South side and near rock walls and the house.

I will have to read up on eating and try it out. Any poisonous forms of cactus that you know?

-- Posted by stevemills on Mon, Aug 24, 2009, at 6:44 AM

I grew up on a stock farm in West Central Texas. During the big drought of the 1950s, I remember my dad using propane to burn the spines off regular prickly pear for our cattle to eat. It was the only thing left late in the summer after the lack of rain and high heat had burned off any other grazing.

-- Posted by kentflanagan on Sat, Aug 22, 2009, at 5:14 PM

I can't tell from the photo, but it appears you have the so-called "spineless" version of prickly pear or nopal cactus. If that is correct, you can use the "leaves" in a variety of dishes, including salsa.

-- Posted by kentflanagan on Sat, Aug 22, 2009, at 5:11 PM

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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.