Barrel Cactus Carnage Again! More Nefarious Behavior

Section cut off from cactus plant.

The barrel cactus carnage that took place last year was truly devastating. After my beloved cactus plants were all but decimated by human hands, prospects were grim for any photos this season. Ideally Nature’s resiliency would have brought them back from the brink. However, that was not to be. Too much damage had been inflicted for these plants to recover.

Between hacking away at these plants AND actually stealing some of them outright, the once beautiful and colorful cactus that graced the public xeric gardens are gone. To say the conduct was criminal by these nefarious scumbags is an understatement!

Claret cups cactus flowers.
Bright red Claret Cup cactus flowers.

To a flower photographer who’s primary focus is to capture images of blooming cactus plants this behavior has been heart-breaking. There is such a short window each year to capture these images. And that can be contingent on the weather. So when they do bloom, it’s a gift!

I can only imagine what it must be like for wildlife photographers in say Africa. What they’ve seen at the hands of poachers. It’s got to be gut-wrenching. Given my experience, in my own way, I can relate.

I have one word for these horrible human beings – ASSHOLES!

I call them as I see them!

Hopeful for a Sole Survivor

There was one sole survivor barrel cactus in the area. Sitting proudly in a garden behind the local Police Station, it had already endured a major assault. Being a big plant, it had at least 50 small sections cut off previously. Apparently the moron  thought he could get high by eating it. But on an up note, he was caught and prosecuted. To what extent I do not know?

Cactus pant covered in dozens of red buds.
Sole surviving hedgehog cactus with dozens of nubby, red buds.

Thus this plant being so large was able to recover and live another day. Last year it was able to bloom – much to my joy. Many photo ops ensued – yay! So in mid-May I paid this big plant a visit. Much to my delight, it was covered in easily 100 red, nubby buds and getting ready to flower. I was over the moon and aimed to return a few days later – which I did.

Sections hacked away from budding barrel cactus plant.
Compare this to the budding image above and you can see the devastation.

However, sadly my enthusiasm was short-lived. Upon my return, it was another case of barrel cactus carnage. This gorgeous plant had been aggressively assaulted with large sections hacked right off. No doubt this was at the hands of the same persons who had assaulted the smaller plants at the xeric gardens last year. These are brazen fuckers considering this plant is right by the Police station! 

More barrel cactus carnage.
Sections hacked away from this beautiful plant.
Hacked cactus plant.

Knowing it was only a matter of time before there would be nothing left of this plant, I managed to capture some images of the bright red flowers and buds I love so much. I even sat with the plant for a bit thanking it for its beauty…

Red nubby buds on barrel cactus.
Nubby red buds.
Bright red claret cup cactus flowers.
Cactus flowers that managed to bloom.
Looking down onto a budding barrel cactus plant.
An overhead view looking down onto this budding cactus.

Nothing is Sacred or Safe These Days

Sections cut away from hedgehog cactus.

Armed with long, white spines one would think a hedgehog barrel cactus would be protected by its very nature.

Getting close to photograph these plants, I’ve had my fare share of pokes. But long spines are clearly no match for a heavy glove and a VERY sharp knife!

Assaulting these plants just as they are getting ready to flower is a crime. At this point I suspect it’s landscape or garden persons who are attacking these plants. Perhaps in an attempt to propagate and sell them? Whatever the intention, there is no regard for the plant’s well-being.

Nothing is sacred or safe these days. Not even a cactus plant. It goes without saying, people really do suck! 😡

If you love flowering barrel cactus (no carnage) – check out these posts:
Claret Cup Hedgehog Barrel Cactus Flowers and Buds
Blooming Hedgehog Cactus Plants During a Visit to Santa Fe, NM


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