Escobaria missouriensis (2007)

PhotoBy Chris Deem (July 2007)

You seem so small, but you have traveled far, tiny traveler…

A dull green cactus about 1 inch tall – a squat little globe with warty, irregular tubercles – sits in a clump of like companions. Many in the group have red, ripened fruits sticking out between their spines. The grey or brownish spines are thin and splayed out in a clumsy fashion.

Here and there in the group, a few still have open flowers. They are attractive, looking rather like the flowers of Echinofossulocactus. They are pretty and pink, with a stripe down the center of their slender petals.

In North Dakota, the winter runs deep, and the great Missouri River runs cold. Did you follow the river here to this quiet, picturesque land? Here in Montana, where once the great Sioux Nation followed the river and hunted the buffalo long ago, you still grow. You have traveled far, tiny traveler.

Escobaria missouriensis, formerly known as Neobessya missouriensis, is not often found in captivity. It is, however, a species that can be found in many U.S. states from Texas up to Canada.

I could not find much information on caring for this adaptable plant. In general, most sources agreed that it does well in full sun and very porous, rocky soils. E. missouriensis can be found in areas and climates as different as a sultry garden in Louisiana and a horse ranch in Wyoming. E. missouriensis is a clumping species, and although most plants have pink blossoms, some have yellow or greenish-yellow flowers.

Lad Cutak, HSCS founder, chose this plant to be the society cactus. It may seem an unusual choice. I believe he must have admired the toughness of this little plant, and the way it grows best – wild and free.