We have a lot of cacti in Tenerife of all shapes and sizes and varying degrees of ferocity. I see this thirty-foot-tall one on my morning walk - this week it was in exuberant flower.
There is even a Cactus Park where you can learn how some cacti protect themselves with vicious spikes while others use toxins to deter predators – very wise in a climate where they are often the only succulent vegetable food around.
This one is called Silla de Suegra – Mother-in-law’s Chair, which proves that those so-called jokes are universal.
At one time this was a thriving industry here, and I understand that many of what appear to be wild cacti may still belong to a particular family. Now most of our red food colouring is artificially produced – not many people like the idea of putting crushed insects into their food – but the fruit is still harvested with leather gloves, shaved with a disposable razor and eaten or sold.
But I have rarely seen any sign of fruit or even seed pods on other cacti. They produce beautiful flowers, but why? Presumably to attract insects, but how do they reproduce?