Episode fifteen: Cactus with Dan Torre
Thanks for bearing with me over the summer break, but On The Ledge is now back! In this week's show I talk to Australian university professor Dan Torre about his new book Cactus, published by Reaktion Books. It's not a how-to but a guide to the social, cultural and historical significance of cacti across the planet, from our love-hate relationship with this plant to its promise as a nutritious food source. And question of the week is back too. We’ll be finding out what fool proof plants are best for a newbie houseplant grower.
Below is a list of links related to our discussion that should help if you want to find out more:
- The Green Horror comic story we discuss can be seen in all its glory on the Digital Comic Museum website. See below for a taster!
- Read more about the history of the prickly pear as an invasive weed in Queensland on the Queensland Historical Atlas site.
- Yes, there was an episode of the British sci-fi series Doctor Who featuring a cactus-like alien.
- The Pereskia cactus with its highly nutritious leaves (which taste like spinach...) is one I am definitely going to be investigating further.
- Ask someone to draw a cactus and they'll probably do an outline of a Saguaro.
- The dye cochineal is made from a scale insect that feeds on the opuntia cactus.
- Here's a bit more information on the dragon fruit which of course comes from a cactus (Hylocereus species).
- You don't want to mess with the jumping cholla (Cylindropuntia fulgida) cactus.
Question of the week
Sean James Cameron asks a great question this week:
I suggest a few different plants for Sean, including:
- Easter lily cactus (Echinopsis subdenudata)
- Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)
- ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) (and the cultivar I mention is 'Raven')
Can I get a witness?
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Thanks to my guest Dan Torre; to talented voice artist Mark Hamilton for providing the extra voices you hear in this show and our theme music, Back to the Fuchsia; you also heard Hot Lips by Bill Brown and His Brownies.