Where would you guess this photo was taken? Colorado? Texas? Arizona?
No, this photo was taken in Wisconsin, about an hour from my home. I'm thinking it might be best not to share publicly exactly where these Brittle Prickly Pear Cacti (Opuntia fragilis) are located, because their status is "threatened" in my state.
It was quite exciting when the fishman and I discovered them growing in the wild during a recent hike--in kind of an unlikely place (at least I didn't expect it).
They were in a shady forest, growing near rock formations at an elevation above 1,000 feet. I know, I know--that's nothing for those of you who live near mountain ranges. But the elevation and other conditions probably contribute to the perfect habitat for the Cacti.
Brittle Prickly Pear is native to the lower 48 U.S. states and much of Canada, but now is found west of a line from Ontario in the north to Texas in the south. It's rare in the Midwest. In my state, it's found in thin, dry soil over rock or sand prairies, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
It occurs in a variety of desert, grassland, prairie, and woodland communities, according to the USDA Forest Service. It's found further north than any other Cactus species in the world--growing in northern Alberta near the Arctic Circle. This Cactus is one of several species of Opuntia found in Wisconsin.
Interestingly, before our hike I had ordered a Prickly Pear Cactus (a slightly different variety) from Cold Hardy Cactus for my new succulent garden. So it was fun to come across this rare species growing in the wild--rarely seen in my state.
Next up--an update on the succulent garden.