Bring It On – Why I Want To Be A Ferocactus

By Bonnie Grant | February 6, 2021
by Bonnie Grant
February 6, 2021

I have always been a bleeding heart. So much so that it has led me into trouble and gotten me a bit used, on occasion. For that reason, the cactus I would love to be is the Ferocactus. These ferocious looking succulents sport numerous, threatening types of spines. I think they would be useful in keeping people that want to take advantage of me at arm’s length. 

The world, and especially the United States, is an uncertain place as I write this. We have a nasty little bug going around, a controversial presidential race, and we still don’t treat each other right. I think almost anyone could understand wanting a protective suit of armor today. A spiny cactus would serve to give that added layer of protection, and would definitely help keep 6 feet of distance. 

The Ferocactus genus consists of primarily large barrel cacti. They are wonderful examples of classic cacti and produce some astoundingly bright blooms. The genus name is made up of the Greek words for ‘fierce’ and ‘thistle. It’s an apt description of these heavily thorned species. Most of the wild species are found in the American southwest and much of Mexico. They enjoy the harsh topography and searing sun. 

Tough, Spiny Barrel Cacti

Aside from mostly being barrel cacti, Ferocactus are noted for their spines. There are often several sizes of spines, and the largest and hardest of them may be cruelly hooked. They resemble the talons of a mighty eagle and are wickedly sharp. The spines are very close together and thick, with hardly any space remaining smooth. They also come in an astonishing range of colors, white, black, pink, yellow, gray, and even red, as in the case of the Devil’s Tongue Cactus. They are some of the most spiny cacti I have ever seen. 

While being coated in such a fierce shell wouldn’t win me any friends, it could serve a protective and possibly aggressive purpose. I would never have to wait for a stall in the ladies room, many fellow shoppers would wave me to the front of the line, and I would not have to eyeball 6 feet away from the next person, as they would do the job for me. 

We can’t become succulents, and this isn’t a serious consideration, but it is one that reminds me of our cultural climate. Cancel culture, online bullying, quarantines, differences of political and ideological opinion all serve to form a natural shell of spines around us. I’m hoping we can find our way back to each other when this is all over, and have learned to appreciate each other just a little bit more.

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