Friday, August 24, 2012

Growing in a Micro-Climate

Missouri's in the temperate zone, but in some dry rocky south-facing sandstone glades that get a lot of sun, cheerful in the huge long drought grow cacti like these prickly pears (opuntia humifusa). I haven't seen any other type of cactus in this area. What's a "glade," you ask? A rocky outcropping amidst woods or grassland. Our glades here are sandstone. The cacti grow in just-right areas only a few feet square called "micro-climates." This one's on the sunny side of the road. The opposite side, chilly and shadowy, is an entirely different ecosystem, supporting temperate plants and creatures and moss and no cacti.

I find cacti on the edges of woods here, at the base of dry south-facing sandstone formations, and on the edge of my south-sloping gravel driveway, where prickly pear plants like shoe soles have persisted for years despite being snowed on, frozen (they turn purple), stepped on, bruised, and run over by cars. If not, they produce frilly yellow blossoms and plum-like fruits. Always get a pleasant sense of wonder when seeing  these wise and witty-looking desert entities way up in the Ozark foothills.


Pablo said...

The only prickly pears I have in my forest are on the north-facing slope, amidst some luxurious grasses. Not the most likely setting for a cactus, and probably why I had overlooked them for years.

Victoria - Ozarks Crescent Mural said...

We have the hugest cactus like that up in the circle of grass that our dead end drive goes around. It produced the most beautiful blooms this year. Funny enough, there's a few palm trees over in Eagle Rock at Uncle Roy's gas station and at the house next door, which we figure is the owner's home since there's that distinct palm tree motif!