Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Up On the Roof

Louise Clarke, Aerial Gardener
If you visited the Arboretum during Bloomfield Farm Day, perhaps you noticed these cheery yellow flowers along the lower edge of the intensive green roof.

The eastern prickly pear, Opuntia humifusa, or devil’s tongue, is a native cactus of eastern North America. The green stems are flattened into pads armed with fine spines that easily dislodge, having an affinity for passing ankles. Last year’s edible red fruits persist through spring where they contrast with this year’s lemon blooms. Requiring full sun and a well drained location, the prickly pear was planted on the lower edge of the roof to spare the horticulturists a sharp surprise when performing maintenance.


  1. A cactus is a clever idea to plant in a rooftop garden. Plants up there will be the absorbing most of the sun’s heat, and a cactus is definitely the strongest weapon. Your roof will certainly get maximum protection from heat, which is great, for enhancing its life expectancy and a cooler temperature for the people in the building.

    Sierra Nordgren

  2. Hmm, I think the problem with having a cactus on the rooftop garden is its inability to absorb water. This type of plant is used to imminent droughts and high temperatures, which is not the case in a typical rooftop. When heavy rainfall comes, your cactus will likely die. So it is best to choose a plant that can withstand heavy rainfall.

  3. You know what, LD? Cactus pads contain beta carotene, iron, and B vitamins. Also, they are good sources of both vitamin C and calcium, hence, they are good for the bones. Obviously, make sure the cactus you plan on cooking is edible, okay? Hehe They taste good, actually - depending on how you cook it. Well, my grandma has a pretty nice recipe for it, if only she would tell me. You should try the delicious Southwestern Cactus Salad sometime.

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