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#barrelcactus

barrel cactus

This cactus is likely a Ferocactus wislizeni, or fishhook barrel cactus, according to the plant list for Arizona’s Catalina State Park, where I snapped this vibrant photo. It is listed as “vulnerable” and “decreasing” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species – distressing news for cacti lovers and desert critters alike. These dazzling cacti, whose bright yellow tunas (fruits) were put on such a show along the path at the park, are threatened by human activities, including cattle grazing and urban development. While they are used in xeriscaping for homes and other gardens, these spiny marvels are being pushed out of their native habitat in order to make way for housing complexes, strip malls, and roads. This elimination of cacti from their native habitats is troubling in part because barrel cacti grow so slowly (we are talking fractions of an inch per year in some cases), and they live to be 50-100 years old. When humans remove cacti in order to make room for our own specie’s expansion, we undo decades of slow and arduous growth in the amount of time it takes for a piece of machinery to uproot what, in the world of flora, is such a tough, timeless member of the desert community. To learn more about cacti endangerment, click here: http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/endangered_species/cacti/

Lucia Hadella