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What are cactus glochid spines?

When I was west to visit my child, I took the same walk and came across the prickly pear cacti on a slope near the road. It was a fascinating discovery.

A stem that resembled an elongated paddle and was referred to as nopales, or cladodes, had snapped off and lay in the dirt.

We noticed that, unlike other kinds of cacti we’ve observed, it didn’t have long, sharp spikes but small bristles that were yellow instead. My daughter was convinced she could do her homework, so when I opened her backpack, she cautiously kept it in her hand.

I’m almost able to listen to that sound you made in your laughter.

At the time, we were unaware that bristles are referred to as glochids. Although they’re not particularly lengthy or dangerous, they can be very itchy, sharp, and hard to eliminate. Sometimes, they are also known as Glochidia.

I’ll discuss glochids in this article, their host species, and how to manage them safely.

Cactus crests are the things that give the cactus its appearance.

Cacti are succulents covered in spines or leaves that have evolved to thrive in harsh deserts. They guard against predators that could be lurking around, reduce the loss of water and shield the soft stems, which are water-filled, from the harmful consequences of the sun and the wind.

They are characterized by various characteristics, such as texture, shape, and size. They also vary in color. The spines of Ferocactus emoryi, also referred to by the name of Emory’s Bar Cactus, are solid and ridged.

The ones of Cephalocereus senilis, also known as the cactus of the older man, are silky and hair-like.

Spines come from protrusions with elevated sides called areoles. They appear at regular intervals on stems, cladodes, the pericarpels (the flower’s protective cover), and on the fruit of the plants.

Glochids are a different kind of bristle that emerges in the areole plants. Contrary to the larger and smoother spines, they are delicate and easy to separate from the foliage. But barbs that resemble fishhooks make it extremely difficult to get them out of any plant they are piercing.

Opuntioideae is the taxonomic subfamily that includes all cacti with spines and glochids. Five tribes belong to this subfamily. These tribes are Austrocylindropuntieae, Cylindropuntieae, Opuntieae, and Pterocacteae, respectively.

This is an enormous amount of information to sort through!

In 2010, a group of experts proposed that the only actual tribes of the Opuntioideae subfamily are the Opuntieae and Cylindropuntiae.

Prickly pears belong to the Opuntia genus, and cholla belongs to the genus Cylindropuntia. These are the most commonly encountered varieties of glochids on cacti grown. Both categories have several subspecies and also cultivar-specific varieties.

In 2021, more than 180 varieties of Opuntia were recognized.

The stems of cacti that belong to the Opuntia genus are segmented and flattened. Cylindropuntia cacti have stems that are spherical and columnar and are separated loosely. Chollas are the only species of cactus to have glochids. Prickly pears can have glochids and massive spines, or only the glochids.

Because of their common glochids and their segmented, branching growth patterns, plants from both genera were once placed under the same term, Opuntia. However, the significant differences between them require classification into different genera.

The devil’s tongue (O. the humifusa) and the plains pear (O. polyacantha) are part of the prickly pear species that possess massive spines, glochids, and spines. Beavertail is also called O. basilaris, as well as rabbit ears, which are also known by the name of O. microdasys, are two species that are exclusively glochid-based.

Chollas are distinguished by their exceptional quality. The stem’s segments are only slightly connected and are covered in glochids.

When people are too close to the animal, the parts grasp onto clothes and their skins with great strength. Because of this distinct characteristic, this species, Cylindropuntia fulgida, is often called “jumping the cholla.”

You’re in the middle of something, aren’t you?

Are there any varieties of Opuntia cactus that do not have spines?

Great question!

Breeder Luther Burbank developed spineless hybrids around the turn of the 20th century by mixing Mexican prickly pears, Opuntia tuna, and Indian fruit figs, Opuntia indica. The result was achieved through the crossing of two species.

The plants that result retain glochids, and even if they’re subjected to drying, they are still capable of forming long spines.

When any spine pierces the skin, it can cause inflammation, irritation, and infection, regardless of the species or size of the bone.

Repairing the damage

If you’ve suffered injury through close contact with the spines of a cactus, you must clean a pair of needle-nose pliers or tweezers using rubbing alcohol, which is 70% isopropyl. Use magnifying glasses and a mirror to aid in navigating while trying to get rid of all the visible spines.

If you’re still experiencing the sensation of stinging or scratching after breaking the bristles, it could be that the barbs are stuck in place. Rub rubbing alcohol on the affected area to clean it. Once it’s dried and healed, use an antibacterial ointment twice daily.

A study carried out in 2010 showed that the spines implanted into the body could trigger inflammation, infection, allergies, toxin-mediated (the body’s reaction to the infiltration of germs) reactions, as well as granulomas (nodule creation near the area of infection).

Get the advice of an expert medical doctor to avoid any issues because the healing process can last for a few months.

My daughter and I neither realized it at the moment, but those bristles were attached to my fabric bag and could get into the sweater I was wearing as we walked.

While we were getting ready for lunch, I removed the sweater with care not to cause the paddle to restart. When I put my hand on the sleeve, I felt pins pinched. I wasn’t sure if I felt itchy or if I was experiencing discomfort.

After removing the sweater and moving my hand along my arms, I was left with the feeling that there were fragments of glass stuck inside my skin. The sensation remained even after I washed.

We soon discovered that the bristles of yellow that appeared to be harmless were designed naturally to be detached and to cause chaos in predators’ jaws and on their skins.

The other is a barrier material, such as foam packing sheets or a sling made from newspaper, which can be used as sturdy support during activities such as the division and potting, transplanting, and even transporting treasure to the home of its owner.

It is possible to add a further layer of protection with salad tongs that securely hold the newspaper or foam during the process.

Paddles Aren’t Portable

Most people don’t stroll around with a paddle in their purses. However, in our defense, I’ll bet you’ve got some gardening secrets hidden in the closet behind your clothes.

Written by Malith92

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