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Sunday, 4 December 2016

Debunking The Mail's Christmas Cactus Tree

Its this bastard article here if you are interested and as its the Fail there is so much wrong with the whole thing its unbelievable.   Its bad enough the weekend magazine had a pre Linnaean name added (horror of horrors) to an excellent 17th C print of what looks like a Selenicereus in all its glory.  In the Fail on Sunday we have this horror of churnalism.

Forget that elegant Norway spruce – a cactus grown in Africa is set to become the latest must-have Christmas tree.
With their long, spiky stems, they may look more at home in the Wild West than a British sitting room.
But their fork-like branches are ideal for decorating with baubles and tinsel, and they don't drop their needles like traditional festive trees.

First of all cacti do not come from Africa, they are new world species which means the Americas and Caribbean (but especially Mexico).  I'm going to have to explain Convergent Evolution to you in simple terms.  
There are a times in evolution where you get different species coming up with the same ways to combat problems in their environments.  In this case harsh desert sun and combating water loss, means reducing leaves down to spines and having a water storing trunk with many ribs to see you through the harsh times.

A cactus, this is Acanthocalycium.
Some Euphorbias

Pro Tip: if you want to know the difference between a cactus and a Euphorbia and its not in flower, look at the spines, the cactus will have a cushion like arrangement called an areole that the spines arise out of whereas the Euphorbia will just send them straight out the stem.

In flower its pretty much obvious. 

Red bit Leaves Yellow bit Flowers.
Actual flower, This.

The photo in this is horrible, it looks like they've had some idiot assault a Euphorbia with load of paint and cover it in baubles, its bastard awful.  Tree Euphorbia's  never look good and worst of all they have poisonous latex like sap so any cuts to the stem will have it bleed toxic milk around. Hardly elegant and potentially hazardous not if you've got kids around.

Oh and looking on the site there is no mention of a cactus christmas tree, though they do sell Euphorbia Ingens for a price.

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