Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The gift of a horse crippler…

This is always a welcome sight to come home to…

Especially when you open up the box to discover a big beautiful horse crippler!

A what? Oh, yes formally known as Echinocactus texensis. A few months ago a comment was left on my blog asking if I’d be interested in a horse crippler, and never one to pass up spikes of course I said yes!

Best of all these spikes came with a story. You can read an excellent blog post about them here (with nice photos too) but for those with a shortage of time I’ll summarize. The name “horse crippler” comes from the nasty spikes on this cactus which grows so low the ground that it’s near impossible to see amongst the grass until you (or a poor horse) are right on it. Combine that with the fact that when dry the plant deflates; causing the spikes to stick straight up and you can see the problem.

Paul, the fine fellow who sent me the Echinocactus, rescued a bunch of these plants from his in-laws ranch in West Texas…he also happens to be the man behind the Texas Triffid Ranch. Established in 2008, the Texas Triffid Ranch is a “nursery dedicated to the propagation and sale of carnivorous, prehistoric, and other unique plants of all sorts.” I see he also specializes in odd plants and oddities for odd people. So does this mean I’m an odd person?

Thank you Paul for the generous oh so spiky gift!

20 comments:

  1. Well, none of us would have said anything about the odd person thing but since you brought it up...Intelligent, kind, and courteous people seem to be in short supply these days so that certainly makes you an oddity! We won't even go into spiky plant territory here it's just too dangerous.

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  2. I bought one a couple of years ago. I love the name. Plus I've never met a barrel cactus I didn't like :-).

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    1. I have that same problem. I wish I could grow them like they do at the Huntington! (barrel cactus that is)

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  3. You're very welcome. This and all of my horsecripplers are rescues from my father-in-law's ranch, where the option is either to rescue them or have them bulldozed where they're threats to people and livestock. My father-in-law still can't believe that anyone would want a horsecrippler, and when I told him that I'd mailed one to Portland, you could have knocked him over with a feather. "One man's trash...", I told him.

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    1. "one man's trash..." indeed. I think my in-laws (who dozed their agaves) wonder about my sanity too...

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  4. OMG...for a moment, I thought you were starting a collection of caltrops!

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    1. Uhm...now that you mention it...

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  5. I do love the name, sounds nasty but actually a very nice plant!

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    1. That might just be the best part!

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  6. I think I'd rather deal with those big, strong spines than the tiny, get me some duct tape and tweezers kind!

    I sure don't like the thought of a horse (or person!) stepping on these. Yikes.

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    1. Good point. The little ones just irritate you until you can eventually find them and pull them out. At least that wouldn't be a problem here!

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    2. You may joke, but I nearly lost a toe when one of those went through the sole of an Army boot. Pulling that puppy out was one heck of a challenge.

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  7. That is one primo specimen! I have 2 E. texensis here among everything else...I somehow killed all my Blue Barrel / Echinocactus horizonthalonius, except one from a project site in El Paso...you would really like that one.

    Caltrop collection...maybe I should mail you some creosote bush seed? I promise to keep goat head / puncture vine seed out of it.....

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    1. I had to do an image search to get the creosote bush seed comment. Oh my...that looks like fun! My in-laws look at me with horror as I walk around their home with bare feet. Little stickers they call sand burrs are tracked in on shoes and then detach on their carpet. I spent about 10 minutes picking them off my shoes when I went "off trail" to harvest the opuntia pads I brought back.

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  8. That is one fearsome looking plant! I know of want one now...Are they hardy in your area?

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    1. It is said to "tolerate cold temperatures and humid, moist conditions" and is hardy to zone 7 (my garden is 8) so theoretically it is. However our conditions are on the wet end of moist, so I'll keep it in a container where I can put it under cover (the shade pavilion greenhouse) in the winter.

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  9. I have a few sheepkillers, but no horse cripplers. Wouldn't mind remedying that though.

    So, can Paul get hold of a triffid for me? Here's a secret: I promised myself I would only consider opening for the National Garden Scheme if I could somehow get the plants to cause the visitors to run screaming from the garden. Triffids would be ideal for this.

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    1. I had to look up sheep killers to find out what you were referring to. Sounds like it's a Puya? Fabulous!

      Sounds like you've got a sure fire success plant for your open garden! I hope you'll post all about it, complete with photos.

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    2. Oh, how I wish. I have Australian triggerplants, though, which are about as close as we can get. Will that help?

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