|Here are some pics
of cacti in characteristic and alluring poses. I hope
that the size of the graphics won't make the download
time too excessive.
If the pics look bad, try resetting the monitor's resolution to thousands of colors. 256 colors can make things look cartoonish.
I'll start with some columnar cacti. Cacti can be divided into several types and the columnar are the largest. Most harbor cactophilic yeast in tissue that has been damaged (by frost, birds, objects blown by strong winds, who knows?). The first cactus is a cardon (many species are called cardon), Pachycereus pringlii. If you look at the upper end of the arms, one (second from left) has a relict rot that has drained, dried up, and the remains have been scoured away by winds. In front of the cardon is a bush-shaped columnar called agria (or pitaya agria), Stenocereus gummosus, for the sweet-sour taste of its fruit. Its flesh is used as a fish poison by locals. The picture was taken in Baja California (most of the shots of columnars pictured are from there).
Another columnar. It is only about five feet high (the cardon above is well over twenty feet high) and is called senita or garambullo (Lophocereus schottii) for its bearded tops.
Ignore the Ugandan below, this is not central Africa. Papulio has returned to his Patria and we all miss his brewing talents (he was especially good at bitters). The columnar behind Papulio is called organpipe (pitaya dulce or organo by Mexicans -- Stenocereus thurberi). This shot was taken in Arizona. The other columnat is saguaro (whose scientific name is Carnegiea gigantea - named for Andrew Carnegie of all things and a particularly ugly latinization). The saguaro and the organpipe both have flowers. All of the columnars are hosts to cactophilic yeast. Behind Papulio on the left is a cholla, which belongs to another major division of the cacti, the Opuntia. More about Opuntia below.
don't rot (no one is sure why this is so) and so don't
serve as hosts for cactophilic yeast or flies, many Opuntia
don't have the round stems of chollas and do rot and act
as host for the yeast. The flat pads of most Opuntia
are great places to look. The one on the left I include
because it is in a grassland and makes the point that
Opuntias often grow in non-desert conditions. They do
well anywhere the soil drains quickly and the winters are
not too cold (but some Opuntias and
small cacti can withstand repeated sub-freezing nights).
Below is another shot of an Opuntia
If you get a chance to look at Opuntia, you might see that some pads are obviously under attack from an insect. It will probably be a relative of the caterpillar below. This one is a Cactoblastis moth, which comes from South and Central American and has been used to control Opuntia species in Australia that were imported as ornamentals and went native to the extent that they excluded cattle from thousands of square miles of prime rangeland in Queensland. Now they have been introduced for the same purpose on some islands in the Bahamas and have jumped onto the mainland in Florida. They have been decimating populations of cacti I have studied for years and will probably cause the extinction (along with habitat loss due to development) of several species endemic to the Keys and Everglades. Bastards.
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Lastly, two pics of Florida. I like them so I'll put them here too. The first is the effect of the recent hurricane on the beach at Big Pine Key (yes. those are entire root systems turned up) and the second is just a nice shot of Florida scrubland in a reserve found in south central Florida (home of the Florids scrub jay). Unfortunately, the Cactoblastis moth has almost eliminated Opuntia from this habitat.