Plant of the Week: Armatocereus

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I had a boyfriend once who was into bodybuilding. He had that big book with tons of pictures of Arnold Shwarzenegger and he would eat that white protein powder that is supposed to make you big and strong. He wasn’t THAT successful and Thank God! because big burly men are definitely not my thing.

 Up until two weeks ago I had never been to a body building contest, the thought had never even passed my mind. Which is semi strange, because I grew up in Venice Beach, home to one of the bigger events of body building, you think I would have at least some passing interest. Yet, I continued ignorant for 29 years, continuing to show off Muscle Beach to my tourist friends, but ignorant of the awesomeness that is a body building competition.

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Venice beach is a chaotic and exciting fiasco on 4th of July weekend (especially now that it has been overrun with trendy dot com beach lovers). Drunken ribaldry is bountiful, even more than usual, and this year included more fratty looking people in capes of American Flags than I ever remember. It was on our stroll that we discovered  the annual “Mr. and Mrs. Muscle Beach” competition and I am so glad we did. If you have never been to a body building competition I recommend it. Burly cartoonish men “dancing” their slow-paced moves to chosen soundtracks as “Eye of the Tiger” or a slow paced Celine Dion. Every stereotype you can imagine of Herculean bodybuilding men is showcased at these events and it is fabulous.

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So you ask me, what does this have to do with the Plant of the Week? Nothing really. Except, since I have plants on the brain most of my days it seems I find myself making farfetched connections between people and plants and plants and people and thus  anthropomorphizing the plants I see. This weeks plant is most definitely a plant on steroids.
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It was also Fourth of July weekend wandering through the haze of drunken partiers that I also found this massive cactus, Armatocereus. I had no clue what it was, I have never seen anything like it, but in that moment it reminded me of those bodybuilders, fittingly, it is also nicknamed the “armed cereus”.

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I know little else of this tree, and scoured the internet to even just get the little I could, other than its genus. It is quite uncommon in cultivation and they are said to be difficult to grow. Armatocereus is from South America and it is  known to grow nearly 40 feet. It’s distinct features is its “pinch points”, the segmented yearly growth cycles on its otherwise cylindrical and ribbed stems.
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Armotocereus, the ‘roided out, muscly, and jaw dropping body builder of the plant world. 

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