Old man cactus has developed an interesting means with which to shade itself.

The long, white hair of old man cactus, Cephalocereus senilis, that protects it from sun scald in harsh climates is what make it so striking in home gardens. However, the sharp spines concealed by the hair make it more appealing from a safe distance, like in the background behind lower perennials. The white, yellow or red flowers are rarely seen, since they only bloom on old stems that are at least a dozen years old. Such old stems are often cut down to the ground before they bloom because they get too tall and awkward, or because they eventually lose some of their hair as they get too old. There should be plenty of hairier, younger stems emerging from the basal clump to replace the older stems anyway. Individual stems rarely develop branches. Although old man cactus can get quite tall, it is typically kept less than fifteen feet tall.


10 thoughts on “Old Man Cactus

    1. Well, the desert is not for everyone. I have always been fascinated by it, and wanted to buy a winter cabin in the Mojave Desert, but no one understands, and everyone talks me out of such investment.

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      1. People assume that, because they dislike the desert, that I should also. I happen to find Trona to be fascinating because it is one of the few places that is not on a boat where there is no vegetation. The ground is too saline and toxic. I get distracted by vegetation everywhere I go.

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