Passion for the prickles: My visit to Ekambarakanan

Treasure house for cactus lovers/ cactophiles

Striking good looks and flamboyant flowers have endeared cacti and succulents to many a plant lover. Every cactus lover should undertake a pilgrimage to the Mecca of cacti growing at Bhubaneshwar. Not many would be aware that the Regional plant resource centre at Bhubaneshwar boasts of the biggest collection of cacti and succulents in Asia- a mind boggling 1050 species of the prickles, Globally, we have only 2500 species belonging to 93 genera. The collection at RPRC is remarkable when you take into account that no cacti is native to India. The institute is doing research on taxonomy and conservation of these desert plants in addition to many other medicinal and aromatic plants. They have standardized techniques of grafting delicate cacti on hardy wild species to improve survival and growth.

When you walk through a series of well established glasshouses, you will see flame red Echinocactus rubbing shoulders with the soft yellows of the Gymnocalicium. The rare pebble like Lithops sp is sure to increase the heartbeat of a cactophile. The riot of colours- whites, yellows, pinks and purples in such an inconspicuous thorny plant will surprise even the lay stroller. Twisted, knotted, hairy, thorny, each species is unique in beauty, colour and feel.

For the avid collector, plants are on sale including grafted rare species. When you have had your fill of these prickly beauties you can stroll through the adjoining Ekambarakanan filled with sprawling greenery and take a boat ride on the placid waters of the adjoining lake.

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