Did you know these prickly things?

Say hi to your prickly friend!We all got used to cactuses as original and beautiful houseplants. So when we hear the word “cactus” we usually think of those natty prickly green things in small pots on our windowsills. They please our eyes and bring warmth into our homes. But apart from aesthetic pleasure that our prickly friends give us, they also play a great role in making people’s life easier and more interesting.

Cactuses are widely used in industry of several countries. They serve as the source for getting vitamins and hormones. They are the essential element in production of some deodorants, wines, liqueurs, soap, etc. Their waste products are used to feed cattle and poultry. Certain types of cactus plants bear so big, juicy and fragrant fruits that people eat them raw, jam and stew them, make cactus jelly.  Sometimes they are put in wine for aroma and even added to meat stew.  Cooked or baked Neowerdermannia is considered to be a special dish in Bolivia and Paraguay.

Some types of Melocactus and Echinocactus are eaten candied. Stalks are hulled of thorns and rinded, sliced and cooked in cane-sugar syrup.

Prickly pear cactus is used to breed such aphids as Coccus cacti and Opuntia cochinellifera, dried bodies of which were used to produce cochineal dye. Cochineal was once highly valued, and until chemical dyestuff finally penetrated the market there were a lot of aphid breeding farms.

Mexican Indians use prickly pear cactus as a remedy for certain diseases. They boil the stalk and roots to make poultices, dry and pulverize it for making splints to treat fractures. Roots of prickly pear have diuretic action and its juice are sometimes used to cure hepatitis.

Medical properties of different types of Cereus, Echinocactus and Ariocarpus are well known. For example, juice of Selenicereus grandiflours is used in homoeopathic, as well as in allopathic treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

Certain cactus species have antibacterial action. One of them is Lophophora that is remarkably rich in alkaloids. Indian tribes always knew about its strong and manifold action. Some tribes use it as an antidote for snake and scorpion bites, other – as a treatment for neuralgic pain and spasms. Lophophora also has a stimulating effect, and many tribes take it in before long trips and festivities; Lophophora helps to dance all night long without getting tired. In ancient times Indian warriors drank Lophophora beverage before the battle. Remarkable enough is the fact that it also helps in case of strong crapulence.

At present American Indians use Lophophora mainly as a ritual intoxicant plant. It causes visual and aural hallucinations and sharpens senses. Being under its influence a man feels all-powerful and doesn’t sense any need in food and drink. For some tribes Lophophora is the object of worship. A great many traditions and superstitions center around this cactus plant. For example, it is necessary to greet Lophophora when you come across it, otherwise, it may take offence and avenge somehow. It is also believed that Lophophora won’t let itself to a man with guilty conscience and restless soul.

So now look again at your prickly ones and say hi to them! Learn them, listen to them, love them!

6 Responses to Did you know these prickly things?

  1. Ma. Cecilia Santurtun says:

    I need to know if it is true that cactus minimize the rdiation of the pc and tv. I will really apreciate your answear.

  2. fieria says:

    I’ve heard a lot of things about that but never bothered myself much with this question, as I have a large cactus collection and I’m not much of a TV-watcher :) I have cactuses standing here and there and if they really protect against radiation then I should feel overprotected :) But the fact is not well-proved scientifically. In any way, I believe that a cactus can minimize radiation only if it stands between you and TV or PC and is big enough to shut the screen completely. But will you be able to watch anything then? :)

  3. Alex says:

    In Russian language it will sound like: “ZACHOT”!!! ;)

  4. christina n hamilton says:

    i have a 1 foot tall cactus and i need to repot it. I can’t even touch it itis so painful. How can I do this?

  5. fieria says:

    It’s an interesting question, Christina. I was just going to write an article about repotting of cactus. But I can give you some pieces of advice right now. The easiest way to report your cactus without any harm for your hands is to use a usual folded newspaper to handle your plant. Wrap it round the plant and carefully take it out. The newspaper must be thick enough not to let pricks of your cactus tear it. I also used oven gloves for such cactus types which prickles were smaller and thinner. But they are absolutely not suitable for repotting a prickly pear cactus, because glochidiae remain in them.

    By the way, could you tell me what happened to your cactus if it needs transplanting in winter? Or you’ve just bought it in the shop and want to repot it?

  6. carol says:

    I recently repotted my cactuses and moved one of them. I noticed that it seemed a bit dull, therefore I moved it back to it’s origional spot, and it seemed to florish (5/6 new stems). But recently it seems to be losing some of it’s spikes, and I am rather concerned. Could I be overwatering or is it in shock?

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