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How The Cactus Got Its Flowers

by Alex Dally MacFarlane

"Listen. This is one of the tales told to explain the details of our world.

"When the prairie-people first came to the desert, they did not understand it. They tried to be cautious, to approach the new things with care.

"But among the people of one caravan was an over-curious child. Disobeying orders to stay near the wagons, this child slipped away during the late evening and walked on small legs over rocks, through crevices and along a fox-trail. Then, ahead, the child saw something new: a green plant covered in spines, a little like a thistle, but flowerless. It was far larger, with thicker limbs that grew up in three prongs from a main stem, like a fork. The child approached it, ever curious, and held out a finger to one of the spines, wondering if it would be soft or hard.

"The spine pierced the child's skin. Blood welled up from the wound, bright red, and dropped down the cactus' dust-muted limb.

"So striking were the stains left by the blood, a neighbouring cactus burst into red flowers in imitation, like a cockerel ruffling up his comb in response to another cockerel. All across the desert this happened, to the marvel of the prairie family and the native dwellers. Some cacti threw up flowers in different colours, as the exact nature of the stains being imitated was not communicated among the cacti, only the shape of the imitation. Within days, the desert was a stunning display of colour.

"But growing flowers drained the cacti. They could not do this all the time. So when their first flowers withered and fell, they waited for rainfall, when they filled with energy, before erupting into brightness once more. Gradually, each type of cactus settled on a type of flower it preferred -- the tall, three-pronged cacti now blooms white, while others bloom pink, orange, yellow.

"As for the child, well, the family-leaders had several ear-fulls of displeasure to give, but gave no great punishment. The scar left by the spine eventually faded. The flowers, however, remain to this day, blooming when it rains."


so informative, thanks to tell us.

Posted by: rorUnsado | September 29, 2010 11:18 PM

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