The end of a cactus

ian_wa(Sequim)March 13, 2010

I have pictured this cactus in Sequim at least a few times on the net. The picture below is quite old, from 2003? perhaps. Since then it has grown huge and spilled out way over the walk. As one of the Northwest's most prominent large cacti, it has been pictured in at least a couple of books and magazines including Cliff Mass' Northwest weather book and Sunset. Now the new tenant of this building wants it gone. She is from Southern California where cacti are nothing too special. She plans to open up a cafe at this site and plant roses instead of the cactus. I didn't bother telling her she was committing a horticultural travesty since she seemed pretty decided on carrying out her plan and would probably not be all that interested in my opinion. Anyways, the good news is, she was in favor of distributing pieces of it to as many people as could come and pick some up. I got more than 400 pads which is probably way more than I can use. I may go back and get one larger piece, pot it into a large pot, and save it, just in case a future tenant wants to replant it (should have thought of that earlier - but I'll go back tomorrow.) The plant must have had - not kidding - around 2,500-3,000 pads and there's still plenty left for everyone. Jane from McComb Gardens was also there, and even passers-by stopped to pick up some cacti. I told the lady I'd let as many people know about it as possible. So now's your chance - go get some if you want it! It's just a couple miles west of Sequim, on the north side of the road just after Sunny Farms. You'd better hurry though, because I bet the rest of this thing will be gone in just a few days. Whatever people don't take "will just be thrown on the burn pile."

I should mention this plant produces loads of yellow flowers in July.

I wonder if this would make a good news story for the Sequim Gazette.

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Wish I lived closer to get a piece of it. It does look beautiful and I love cacti.
Thanks for the tip.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 3:12AM
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Mary Palmer

I sent my sister an email asking her to get a few pads for me! She lives fairly close by. I suspect she will think I have lost my mind.....

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 12:26PM
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It really is a stunning specimen and an almost perfect siting. What a shame it is being replaced and with roses, for heaven's sake!! How ordinary!

Many gardeners do not realize how hardy many species of Opuntia are - there are species native to virtually every state in the continental US and grow in such seemingly uncactus-like climates as Montana, North Dakota and Alberta.

Ian, do you know the species? Is it our WA native, Opuntia fragilis?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 1:56PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Yes: Roses will do nothing to differentiate her new location, unless she grows a spectacular climber over the front of the building or does something else arresting with them.

Since Montana and etc. have native cacti (and yuccas), apparently they are in fact suitable for them. Winter damp seems to be more of a problem for many hardy succulents than winter cold.

The locally native prickly pear produces much smaller parts than the specimen shown. And its pads are not flat and pad-like.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 3:18PM
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Well it could be a worse spot for roses - being so close to a busy highway and two gas stations, at least the deer won't eat them... plenty of sun... and their leaves should stay relatively dry. I have to wonder how well a cafe can do in this spot with so much road noise. The funny part is she says she wants it gone because "someone might fall into it and get hurt" if falling into a mature rose bush wouldn't hurt you. The landlord says it's a shame and he might insist on keeping it (after cutting it back hard), if he didn't really need to rent this place.

True, there are cacti native to 45 of the 50 US states... who wants to guess which states don't have any native cacti? This plant is O. engelmanii, which is native to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and NW Mexico. If you're wondering what our native cacti look like here are some pictures and descriptions: A primer on Washington native cacti

So I went back this morning and got a couple nice big pieces (not easy since they break apart easily) - I'll pot them into 15 gallons or something and then at least it will be possible to "replace" it in some sense, if desired. I'll post more photos and information later. I do have pictures of it at a much larger size, and in bloom - at one point it was getting close to 6' tall before the snow in Dec 08 and Feb 09 knocked it down a bit.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2010 at 6:28PM
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lotta_plants(z8 wa)

I called my mom and asked her to get me some. She will go by tomarrow and pick some up. ( She lives in PA)

    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 12:32AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

a gorgeous specimen, how sad.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 3:02PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The ultimate irony would be if she mixed in some barberries and firethorns when planting the roses.

Barberries do look good with shrub roses, at least.

But I visualize the usual stick garden of somewhat indifferent hybrid teas and other bedding types.

If something neat actually happens, be sure to post a follow-up.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 11:24PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I have driven by it a lot of times and have always noticed it. My wife has family in Port Angeles and Sequim.
That Cactus is probably the largest of it's kind in the state.
How sad indeed.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 11:40PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

There was a pretty broad clump in a Lynnwood front garden for some years. Last time I looked for it it may have been gone.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 12:35PM
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So here's the full story on that cactus, with a lot more pictures:
Cactus destruction: the continuing saga

Correction: it wasn't Jane from McComb gardens, it was Mary.

Finally, the five states with no native cacti are Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Alaska, and........


    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 2:47AM
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lotta_plants(z8 wa)

Drove passed the place last weekend, it sure looks different. Mom got me some very nice pieces that I will get in the ground this week. I hope they do as well as the one I got from NE about 15 yrs ago.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 2:50PM
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