Before you start hissing like an old boiler at the use of the word ‘cacti’ (pl), I’ll remind you that it is correct. It is a cactus and many cacti.
Anyhow, the point of this blog from your (occasionally) friendly blogista, Fern, is that although I’ve never been a fan of cacti – this derived from having many childhood occasions of either being pricked by their thorns or having fallen into a patch of them, or having a cluster of needle-like, fine blond hair-like thorns stuck into my fingers, toes, feet and having to have the patience of Job and the eye of an hawk trying to get the little ***bleep**** out when you couldn’t even see them with the naked eye, but every time you brushed a finger against a surface it hurt like blazes …
Okay, I’m back. What I was trying to say is that even something as mean as a cactus, growing as it does in sometimes the most hostile of conditions – almost zero rain fall, boiling hot sun day in and day out; in spite of all of these conditions – the cactus manages to come up with a plan to store water in order to survive.
You’ll find with most cacti that they don’t have leaves to catch much needed water so they’ve adapted by spreading their roots far and wide in order to catch underground water from the occasional rainfall in their natural habitats.
Some types of cacti can store up to as much as 760 litres of water. Yep, you read that right – seven hundred and sixty litres of water! So, although the cactus may not be everybody’s favourite plant – all those flipping thorns – they are without doubt one of the most useful plants of the natural world. Their uses are multitude and many cacti are edible, case in point being the Prickly Pear, which I’ve actually eaten. They’re quite delicious and the sap from the pads repels mosquitoes and is a remedy for minor cuts and burns.
So if you’re ever stuck out in some arid, hot and waterless environment, just look to the cactus for a source of water, food and healing properties all in one plant. Think of it as an out of the office – that’s waaaay out of the office – water cooler station.
Just watch out for those dam-nee thorns.