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Some years ago, giving a 09:00hrs winter inspection of my small collection of plants, I was horrified to see that my 120cm tall Opuntia pachypus was leaning at an approx 45 degree angle. Being Christmas morning I double checked that I was at the correct angle to view - sure enough pachypus was leaning at this acute angle. I was most upset that this magnificent plant which was growing so well and which had been given to me years earlier by a very dear friend, when it was about 80 cms tall, was on the verge of collapse. On close inspection I saw that the base was soft and mushy - nothing else for it but to operate and sever the trunk above the soft mush, to look for firm body flesh, hopefully to dry and then re-root. Back in the house I reflected on what to do. So mind made up, I returned back into the greenhouse armed with strong glove and carving knife! I laughed out loud as I realised that only a few hours later, when my wife arrived home from work, I would be carving the festive turkey with the same knife!

I made the first cut about 10cms above the rot and found that the centre of the plant was hollow, so I cut again about 10cms higher and found the same, and then the same again and again and again until I reached almost the top. The inside was like a bamboo shoot, hollow and in sections (See Fig 15). So there it was, hollow and in sections from the base all the way to the top. So what was it that caused this? Has anybody in the TSG experienced this phenomenon perhaps in the fall of their O. pachypus

Fig. 15. Austrocylindropuntia pachypus. Photograph by John Cox. Note the “chambers” in the hollow core. Ed

 

John Cox. Bradford.