Elaine was a seedling cactus that was given back to me from my mom. For years going back to grade school, I grew cactus. I was infatuated with cactus. When I left for college and moved away, my mom kept my cactus alive. Every time I visited home, my mini cactus collection was alive and did well under her care. When I started my nursery, I gave my mom a cactus I grew from seed. She planted it near the door where it always greeted me for several decades when I visited. Surprisingly this cactus also survived one zone colder than my farm and tolerated semi shade. It also had one thing that had alluded me in finding: a cold hardy thornless cactus with few if any glochids. Glochids are those almost invisible cinnamon colored teeny barbs that are a huge irritant. 'Elaine" has few if any of those. So the pads are very clean and almost free of glochids. This makes them safer to grow for culinary use but also a bit more friendly in cultivation if you have pets or a lot of curious folks wondering what is that plant anyway. Few if any thorns develop with this selection too. Some older three year pads may have a few small thorns and glochids but even that is greatly reduced compared to most prickly pear cactus.
Before I sold my family's farm, I took a pad to my farm to see how it would perform. A decade later I realized this was a special cactus surviving in a wind swept field. 'Elaine' was named after my mom who steadfastly took care of my cactus collection when I was in college.
"Elaine" is a light producer of fruit but it does flower profusely. If you decide to use the skin of the fruit scrape the fruit free of prickles called glochids. They are very tiny and a huge irritant. Scoop out the insides of the fruit and puree in a blender with water. The result will be a highly viscous gel.
The pads of "Elaine" has very few if any glochids in the first year pads. Older pads will develop them but not many. No thorns have been produced on older parts of the cactus, but it would not surprise me if a few pop out but so far none have been observed at my farm in southwestern Michigan. Pads are up to 8 inches long and 3 inches wide. They tend to be narrow and oblong in shape bright light green in color even going into fall.
The issue for cactus is the moisture level found in the soil during winter. A lot of cactus species grow very well here but eventually succumb to a wet winter where the soil holds moisture to the point where s type of ringspot disease weakens and destroys the planting. "Elaine" is resistant to this disease and does not suffer from moist winters or high levels of humidity in soil or air. It was the only cactus to do so on my farm and is the last remaining selection I have which continues to survive today.
Package comes with 3 pads. Pads can be cut or split to create many plants from one pad.
|Genus & Species||Opuntia x hybrid|
|Height (ft)||6 inches|
|Pollination Requirements||Self fertile-does not produce a lot of fruit or in some years none at all.|
|Soil||Sandy, rocky-low moisture type situations|
|Ease of Cultivation||Easy to root. Has been low in fruiting. But a good pad producer here and has survived where all others have failed.|