Friday, December 14, 2018

Eve's Needle - It Will Produce Thorns For You

'Eve's Needle' Cactus
Sometimes I wonder why plants are named as they are. 'Eve's Needle' (aka Eve's Pin Cushion) is today's puzzler. Its botanical name is Austrocylindropuntia subulata, which translated means "southern cylinder." Opuntia refers to Opus, Greece where cacti are found. Subulata means "awl-shaped." That's easy. It is native to the southern hemisphere, the mountains of Peru, actually. It is cylindrical in shape. It's definitely a cactus. The succulent foliage and spines are awl-shaped. Simple enough.

But why is it called 'Eve's Needle'? Does it refer to Adam's spouse? Did the spines call to the mind of a taxonomist the words of Genesis 3, "Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat from it,' Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field"?

Was the celebrated Eve a significant person for the taxonomist? Wife? Mother? Daughter? Mistress? Was she a seamstress? Was she the cause of personal pain?

What do you think? Whether you are captivated by such mysteries, or simply intrigued by cacti, 'Eve's Needle' should be in your collection.

'Eve's Needle' matures to the height of a small tree - about 15 feet. But it can be easily grown as a much smaller specimen in a container garden. Besides the fact that it grows relatively slowly, a potted plant will grow slower still because its root growth is limited.

'Eve's Needle' is as useful as any other cactus in xeriscapes, cacti and succulent collections, container gardens, and as a pest deterrent. Neither man nor beast will risk walking among its 3 inch long spines.

Here are a few details about the plant and how to grow it.

Bloom Color: Red.

Bloom Time: Late spring to early summer.

Foliage: Succulent awl-shaped leaves supported by spines.

Height/Spread: 1' to 15' at maturity. Space 12" to 36" apart.

Climate Zones: 9, 10, 11.

Sun Exposure: Full sun, partial shade

Soil Condition: Sandy, well-drained. pH 6.1 to 7.8

Features: Tall, upright, branching habit; bright red flowers, heat tolerant, attracts pollinating insects. Sharp spines. Use caution when handling!

Uses: Cactus and succulent borders, xeriscaping, theme gardens, desert gardens, container gardens, indoor containers with sun exposure, hedging, "homeland security."

Have you grown 'Eve's Needle' or seen a fine specimen in a cactus garden? Can you solve the mystery of its name? Please add your comment. We'd love to know!

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