Did You Know You Can Find Native Cactus in Michigan?
When I think of cactus and rolling tumbleweeds I think of deserts and the wild west-- not Pure Michigan where we like to "Keep It Fresh"!
Whether you call them cacti or cactuses (both are technically correct) I had no idea a place as lush and green as Michigan could also be a place where these prickly plants thrive. Did you?
Which Cacti Grow in Michigan?
It turns out Michigan is home to not one, but two different species of native cacti.
Fragile Prickly Pear, or Opuntia fragilis, is a flowering cactus plant that features a beautiful yellow flower when it blooms. Fragile Prickly Pear is native to most of North America and can not only be found in Michigan, but in neighboring states like Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and even Canada! This species is considered endangered and is relatively small.
Opuntia Cespitosa, or Eastern Prickly Pear, is typically found in regions between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River, but can also be found near Ontario, Canada. According to Michigan Nature Guy, the Eastern Prickly Pear can be found in southwest Michigan and in Monroe County in the far southeast corner of the state.
Where to Find Them
Prickly pear cacti thrive in sunny areas and quite often you'll find them growing in well-drained, sandy areas. Though it is quite common to find cacti in Michigan's lower peninsula, it was recently discovered that both species of cacti are now present in the upper peninsula.
Residents of southwest Michigan have shared first-hand accounts of finding cacti in the area saying:
- "There are extensive settings of prickly pear in the Allegan State Game Area and a few spots along the Kal-Haven trail." - Jeff Green
- "There is a large grouping of MI Prickly Pear along the White Pine Trail in Belding, and low and behold last year I stumbled upon a small grouping in our subdivision in Sparta, MI. " - Lucy Chargot
- "We have about a hundred of them growing on a half acre corner lot of our property in Van Buren County. They have multiplied over the last few years.
Now (late June to early July) is blooming time for them." - R.J.