Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cow's Tongue

There's a lot of wonderful cacti out there for our Tucson gardens.  One of the hardiest cactus that grows here in Tucson is called the Cow's Tongue.  Very little care is required for this cactus here.  Many people will call it a Prickly Pear with the longer I did.  For years, I just knew that this was a different cactus from the others that grew better than others, but I didn't know the name!!  This plant survived our historic freeze this past year and has actually done better than other cacti around town.  It likes sun and will spread out over the ground.  It's an extremely attractive specimen to have around as a barrier or in an area you don't want people hanging around:)  Watch the watering.  It can handle a bit more water than other cacti here but not much more.  Another tip that comes to mind, if you place these near a busy street, they will collect trash like plastic bags, etc and get stuck to the needles.  That's important to know:)  Plant in our clay soil.  It will do well.  To propogate, take several paddles off the main plant and let scab over for a week before placing into your landscape.  This cactus is very low maintenance here.  For ideas, drive around town and check out how people use this cactus.  If you are in Tucson, I recommend driving down Tucson Blvd near Ft. Lowell.  There is a wonderful display of the Cow's Tongue cactus for a good portion of the block.
I think these plants look great in controlled colonies.  For example, on a trip to New Mexico, we found this colony of Cow's Tongue growing near the road.  Many people utilize this cactus in this manner.  If you are new to Tucson, don't be afraid to use these plants in your front yard or near a road.  Think barriers.  While I love Tucson, there are issues with random people jumping fences etc.  Prevention is the key word here and a colony of these tough guys will keep even the most resilient of riff raff out of your yard....and still look attractive at the same time.  Mix this idea with another cactus known as Cow's Horn and create a "cattle ranch":) We're nearing the end of December and the start of the New Year.  While gardening may be a little quiet right now, consider your options and projects in the yard and prep before the hot and long summer months begin. More tomorrow....


  1. they look really nice. we have the prickly pear here.

  2. Great post and photos. We have several large pastures of this near San Antonio and it's always a "slow down" moment to see them. There's a spineless version popular in my neighborhood but it's also a deer favorite so the edges are chewed a bit.

  3. I snagged a pad of this plant while we were on vacation last fall, so far it seems to be okay here in the Pacific Northwest, but time will tell.

  4. Cow's Tongue P. Pear is definitely a favorite cactus for larger spaces from Abq south. I was bummed when mine froze the last 3-4 years, but others live on in warmer locales! The other Cow's Horn, we in NM will have to drive to Tucson and Phx to see. Great post, as usual.

  5. I've used many a cactus as barrier plants in just the right settings.

    You know i have a tendancy to see things in photos that the photographers never meant to focus on. I'm looking at the horizon where Riparian Cottonwood forests are in the background. I love Arizona Riparian Habitats.

    After reading several of Marshall Trimball's historical books of Arizona, I realize how at one time the deserts were actually covered from end to end with these types of forested habitats and now there is a mere trickle of them.




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