Did You Know New York is Home to Two Species of Cacti?
Besides maybe our gas tanks, there isn't a whole lot in New York that's dry, but that doesn't mean cacti can't grow here. As a matter of fact, there are not one, but TWO species of cacti you can find growing natively in the Empire State.
According to scenichudson.org, hikers may find two distinct species of prickly pear cacti growing in the Hudson Valley, specifically in the Hudson Highlands and Sugarloaf Hill regions.
The Opuntia humifuso cactus -- also called the Devil's tongue -- is a variety of prickly pear characterized by its green, spiked pads, and bright yellow flowers that will bloom in the early summer months. The second variety is the Opuntia cespitosa, which shares many of the same physical qualities, except its flowers will bloom with a red or orange center.
Cespitosa was only recently confirmed as being the region's second variety of cacti.
HOW DO THEY SURVIVE THE WINTERS?
Both plants' thick, green stems are similar to what you'd see in drier parts of the United States, but are able to withstand the harsh New York winter months, thanks in part to a special chemical in their cells that acts a bit like antifreeze.
If you've got a green thumb, prickly pears can also be grown in your yard, or in a plantar.
Even though these cacti are technically "native" to New York, they're not very common, so if you encounter one in the woods, wild harvesting is highly discouraged.