Our next cactus type is the hedgehog cactus which somewhat resembles the animal. So, lets find out what’s so interesting about this cactus type. The hedgehog cactus is known by some other names like king’s cup, claret cup, and mound cactus. It belongs to the triglochidiatus species. The pulp, stem, and the flower parts of the hedgehog cactus are used for various purposes. There are many types of hedgehog cacti and the crimson hedgehog cactus is one of them. It is small in shape and looks like a barrel. It grows in clumps and has a cylindrical shape with 1 to 2 ½ inches of thickness. Each stem has about 9 to 10 ribs with no leaves because its chlorophyll lies in its stem. From all other types of hedgehog cactus, the crimson hedgehog cactus is much more tightly packed and stronger. These hedgehog cacti have only few uses in modern times.
Earlier people thought that the hedgehog cactus had spines which gave it a hedgehog type of an appearance. The hedgehog cactus has 3 or more spines clustered along its ribs and each spine is 2 to 3 inches in length. The yhave beautiful deep red coloured flowers that have many cup shaped petals. The fruits are also red in colour and can be eaten. Mainly in the months of April and June, these flowers bloom and remain open at night also. Their pores or in other words stomata use the cool temperature in order to exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen. In the day time these plants carryout photosynthesis, but their stomata remains closed in order to preserve moisture.
Some native people burn the spines of these flowers, mash them, add sugar and bake the mixture to prepare sweetcakes. These plants are mostly found in mountain deserts and grow near rocky out-croppings. They have the ability to grow in cold climatic conditions in which their stems come closer so that heat loss could be minimized. They grow in plenty in the American continent,Central Mexico, Western United States, etc. Their other flower colours range from lavender to pink, all of which bear sweet edible fruits. History about these cacti reveals that the Pueblo, Hopi, Navajo, and Paiute people might have consumed the fruit of these plants. Their roasted stems are used to reduce swelling.
The hedgehog cactus has about 50 species associated with it but all of them are not universally recognized. Some stems in these plants may have only a few spines while some stems may be spineless. The hedgehog cactus is cultivated widely for its floral part. They need regular water from March to October. The claret cups need strong sunlight to maintain their healthy look and dry cold winters for the production of their flowers.Some varieties of the hedgehog cactus can tolerate temperatures as low as -25 degree Celsius. Native women have used the sticks of hedgehog cactus for medicinal reasons and to harvest the buds so that these buds can be prevented from being injured. Their stems are burned and their ash is applied on burns and cuts to give a soothing effect. Next on the list of cactus types to be reviewed will be the Pincushion or Prickly Pear Cacti so stay tuned. If you have any requests please contact us!