A version of this story first appeared in Gear Patrol Magazine. Subscribe today for more stories like this one, plus receive a $15 gift card to the Gear Patrol Store.
Cacti are photogenic in the most unphotogenic way. Bending arms, misshapen pads, random bumps — these are features that solidified the cactus as a plant to be cursed at, not owned. But now cacti's unpredictable weirdness has people embracing them with open (albeit covered) arms.
“Plants are all unique and imperfect and the shapes are what makes them so wonderful,” says Christan Summers, cofounder of the Brooklyn plant store Tula. When it comes to cacti, their all-around resilience goes a long way, too.
Cacti are capable of living and growing in extreme environments and on apartment windowsills alike. What's more, they can live to be incredibly old, and they wear their age like a badge of honor. From scars to growth patterns, a cactus's life is reflected in its looks. There's gratification in watching them slowly grow into the looks that are unique to their upbringing.
Summers also thinks the sheer variety of species and shapes has drawn a new wave of prospective plant parents to cacti. And with upwards of 2,000 species to choose from, there’s a cactus for everyone. “It expands far beyond the common plant or tropical-oasis vibe into a world of shapely, blooming beauties that don't demand too much attention to thrive,” she says.
Here, see select pieces of the desert that Summers brought into a little corner in Brooklyn.
Why is its English name the star cactus? Just take an overhead look and see.
Worming its way up to the sky — and into your heart.
Cereus forbesii 'spiralis'
Things are spiraling out of control.
The peanut cactus will flower faster than you can learn to pronounce its proper name.
Crested Pachycereus Marginatus
Mexican fencepost cacti are rare; love for them is common.
Eulychnia castanea spiralis
Like the popsicles of your youth, but spiny. And we don’t recommend putting this in your mouth.
Echinocereus rigidissimus var. rubrispinus
Sonic the Hedgehog, meet the rainbow hedgehog cactus.
Liberace would like the myrtillocactus geometrizans — it can grow to have a candelabra-like structure.
Myrtillocactus geometrizans 'Fukurokuryuzinboku'
This cultivar of the myrtillocactus geometrizans comes from Japan. Fukurokuryuzinboku can be hard to say. It also goes by: The Boob Cactus.
Opuntia reticulata cobra
The prickly pear cactus is known for its pads. This cultivar can grow so that it looks like a cobra standing up, which is how it got its name.
The opuntia miquelii regularly drops its spikes to be dispersed across the desert, leading to its multiplication.