Given that I am have currently been rendered unemployable by the Foodite-Orcs I have had some extra time and so I have put together a small project to honor the Pincushion Cacti in my local Indian Battle Park. There has been a build-up of trash in the area and so in an effort to create a better environment for the Cacti I have opted to dedicate my free time to keeping the litter off the hills. Lethbridge is a very windy place so much of the trash just blows in on its own and so it’s not really anyone’s fault. I am volunteering my time to honor the Cacti because Caryophyllales are cool plants not to make this some save-the-world thing. However there are currently two “Scrub Camps” which could contain needle and drug residue and so I am taking a deliberated effort on those. My Kinsfolk of both sides of my family have been hit hard with the Opioid crisis so it feels important to clear the area from time to time and keep it looking like natural prairie. The following picture is the one I found disturbed. Its recovered nicely.
It’s easy to say that there is nothing interesting about the prairie ecosystem but the Pincushion Cactus is a great example of a tiny microcosm; to me they look like little dream catchers or tiny hogan’s that the Cactus Berry Faeries live in. So when I found some uprooted possibly by a hiker’s boot; I took it as an opportunity to better understand them. The Cactus are easily overlooked by those who assume that our semi-arid landscape contains only stones and grasses on the sides of coulees and embankments so I am not writing this in complaint; they can easily go unnoticed. The couple that I found uprooted may have been dug up by a Porcupine as well. So far only my original Cactus flowers but the others will likely do so this year as well. The Cactus themselves are one of my favorite aspects of living on the Prairies and one that is almost totally unknown. The various other berries such as Saskatoon’s Amelanchier alnifolia or Bull Berries Shepherdia argentea can be eaten in bunches and so most people living in the area have tried them at some time but others such as the Goose Berry Ribes grossularia or the Pin Cushion Cactus Escobaria Something-? are harder to find unless one has spent significant time scouring the ground in rocky areas open to the effects of erosion. These Cactus in particular seem to like coulee sides and not the flat prairie so they might actually be difficult to find in the grassland areas.
Our 403 Pin-Cushion Cactus appears to be diverse from the Pincushion/Escobaria pictured online. Our Cactus above seems to be more sparsely prickled than the ones through out the United States. From an aesthetic stand point the Pincushion’s are also very notable for their interesting geometries and protruding spines. The flowers are adorable as far as Cactus flowers go and once you see them you will never be able to un-see them. May this post be a blessing to all the little Cactus Berry faeries in the area too keep safe and grow ever more in bunches. There must be something magickal about their fruit; how could there not be!?