Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Prickly pears and figs

The pads (Cladone) are 16" long and by 6.7" wide on this selection.
I am back from the dentist and don't feel much like planting trees this afternoon. That means you will get a post that is long on theory and short on action.

It is almost inevitable that gardeners and folks who raise animals want to push the envelope.
This picture was taken in early spring. Scaling from the oak leaves, the pads are about 1.5" wide by 3" long.
Opuntia cespitosa, prickly pear, are native to Michigan. They survive by flopping down and letting the snow cover them. They are surprisingly common between Muskegon and White Hall, Michigan and are easily spotted when they are in flower since they have large, brilliant yellow flowers. They even grow on freeway overpasses in Muskegon.

One would expect this species to be abundant in the D.C. area given its species name, cesspitosa. But, alas, it is not common there.
Image taken by William Cullina, Executive Director of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
Three species of Opuntia also grow in Wyoming where temperatures are far lower than occur in Michigan. I saw some growing in the terra cotta like soils northeast of Wapiti, Wyoming.

Those are not the Opuntia of nopales and prickly pear fruit. Nope.

TAMUK #1319.
That would be Opuntia ficus-indicia

OFI has been domesticated for so many centuries that probably absorbed genetics from clusters of similar species. Sadly, this "species" hits the wall at 15 degrees F. That makes it a no-go in Michigan without protection.

Mrs ERJ will not allow me to grow Opuntia. The spines are almost invisibly thin and don't mix well with impulsive children.

Part of me wonders if elite selections of OFI are cross-compatible with the more hardy species from Wyoming and Michigan. I suspect that I will never find out.

Figs are also another fruit I will probably never grow.

There are folks in Canada successfully growing them.

Neverella fig. Image from HERE
Hastay's Greenhouse in Eaton Rapids has a large specimen. It may be Neverella.

Figs grow like weeds in some places and are pushing-a-rope in others. A man has to know his limits. It is more productive to grow plants that WANT to grow in your climate than to fight mother nature.

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