Uŋkčéla (Cactus) Roundup

These are a bunch of cacti photos I took with my mom in the Badlands and Black Hills a few summers ago, and a few from the prairies of Standing Rock (North Dakota side). There are apparently six species of cactus that are indigenous to South Dakota, and five in North Dakota. In Minnesota, there are at least three — I saw these two at Pipestone National Monument.

The only words I know for these cacti are uŋkčéla (generic word for cactus) and uŋkčéla blaská (for a prickly pear/nopal) cactus. I haven’t learned words for all of the different types of cacti yet.

Uŋkčéla blaská is a great food and medicine. If you dare to brave the spikes, the pads of this cactus can be harvested, shaved, and eaten. It’s also a great medicine with slippery, demulcent qualities that can soothe mucus membranes throughout the body.

Now I’ll share some of my pictures of cacti from the Dakotas.

I believe that the prickly pear (nopal) cacti in this first photo are Opuntia polyacantha (Hairy Prickly Pear or Plains Prickly Pear). I’m not sure about these tiny ones, but I think they might be Coryphantha vivipara (Pincushion Cactus).

I think these next few are Opuntia cymochila (Prickly pear). Wablúška in a cactus flower.

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