No, I have not been down in Latin America recently, if that’s what you’re thinking. Actually, I took this picture on Thursday inside the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.
Not sure what to do with my day off on Thursday, I was struck by a suggestion by my friend Brian that I visit this beautiful National Historic Landmark. Besides its regular collection, it has till the end of October an exhibition about a 1939 trip to Hawaii by painter Georgia O’Keeffe, he said.
I was surprised by how accessible the garden was—less than a half hour and only five stops on the Harlem line of Metro-North. I couldn’t have asked for a much better day, weather-wise: sunny, warm but not humid.
The cactus is the type of plant associated with the American Southwest that O’Keeffe came to know and love so well. Except that this particular variety, cleistocactus icosagonus, comes from southern Ecuador and northern Peru. This protected species prefers the sun on dry soil, with a sandy substrate or gritty-sandy soil.
As you can also guess from this picture, it reaches heights of 15 to 25 centimeters. From the looks of it, I half-expected the cactus to slither around and rise up like some tropical beast, not unlike that nasty anaconda that menaced poor Jennifer Lopez on the big screen a few years back.