My Auntie’s Garden – Part 9 – Suculents

There are several colors of sempervivum around the garden, and this red cluster near the old well is particularly beautiful in combination with its surroundings.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Then there is this bowl with what looks like sempervivum but is a different species whose name completely skipped my mind. That is the reason why it is in a bowl – unlike sempervivum, this one is not frost-hardy species.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

There are also several clusters of various sedum species, but I did not make extra pictures of those since they are tiny. What is not tiny, however, is this little opuntia. The fruit (“prickly pear”) is edible, although not particularly tasty according to my aunt. There are only several cacti species that are frost resistant enough to survive the winter here, even in the much milder winters in the area where my aunt lives. And if frost does not kill them, then the overabundance of water will. This one has survived several decades under the careful care of my aunt and it looks healthier than mine in a flower pot.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.


  1. Ice Swimmer says

    The red one is lovely indeed.

    Could the mystery one be Jovibarba?

    I didn’t think one could crow cacti north of the Alps in Europe. Your aunt clearly has a green thumb par excellence.

  2. seachange says

    Prickly pear is tolerant of water. The fruit tastes like citrus plum. They do not taste like pears. The citrus flavor part of it is not like any citrus fruit in particular, but just a generic version of what a random and not at all orangey or lemony citrus fruit might taste like if you don’t pay attention to it. It is much less complex. They are firmer than plums, thready like some pears, and less sweet.

    The way it is laying there is what prickly pear looks like when it has been overwatered but not fatally so, usually. This may mean it’s a scandent varietal and/or it may just not be as tasty as the real thing. The fruits of overwatered ones also aren’t as tasty. The fruits (tuna) in this picture don’t look like the typical prickly pear. The pear of the name is a shape and texture thing and not a flavor thing. For the kind of prickly pear that is most common around here the fruits are more purpledy-red when they are ripe, but some are that color.

  3. lochaber says

    I’ve had prickly pear fruit a couple of times, and I always thought it was pretty decent, if messy and labor intensive (those tiny little hairs around the base of the visible spines are really difficult to remove, and quite irritating…)

    But, the few times I’ve eaten them, they were foraged from wild and/or neglected plants, so maybe the reduced water availability made them more flavorful, or something? but lots of seeds, and they stain everything within a 100 meters or so…

    I have heard other people say they thought the prickly pair fruit was bland/not very good, so maybe I’m just weird (about this specific thing, I’m fairly certain I’m weird in general…)

  4. says

    @brightmoon, thats’ it! Thank you.

    @seachange, lochaber I haven¨t personally tried the fruit, I am wary of experimenting with foods since I could be allergic. O if I ever try something new, I always do it at home where I have plenty of medication at the ready.
    The plant is too small for any harvest to be really meaningful and getting rid of the thorns must be a pain in the nether regions. As far as I know, there are several species of Opuntia that produce edible fruit and they vary in quality and taste.
    The plant is definitively overwatered. My aunt does her best to shield it from rain and snow in the winter, but even so, it inevitably gets more water than is optimal.

  5. says

    I love semper vivum and all succulents. Believe it or not, while I’m a decent gardener outdoors, I usually restrict myself to succulents and the inevitable phalaenopsis indoors, because I kill anything else.

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