If God would choose a plant to represent him, I think he would choose of all plants the cactus. The cactus has all the blessings he tried, but mostly failed, to give to man. Let me tell you how. It has humility, but it is not submissive. It grows where no other plant will grow. It does not complain when the sun bakes it back or the wind tears it from the cliff or drowns it in the dry sand of the desert or when it is thirsty. When the rain comes it stores water for the hard times to come.
In good times and in bad it will still flower. It protects itself against danger, but it harms no other plant. It adapts perfectly to almost any environment. It has patience and enjoys solitude. In Mexico there is a cactus that flowers only once every hundred years and at night. This is saintliness of an extraordinary kind, would you not agree? The cactus has properties that heal the wounds of men and from it come potions that can make man touch the face of God or stare into the mouth of hell. It is the plant of patience and solitude, love and madness, ugliness and beauty, toughness and gentleness. Of all plants, surely God made the cactus in his own image. ~ from The Power of One: A Novel ~ Bryce Courtenay
These cactus grow all over California and Mexico, and Mexicans like to eat them. As you may recall, the leaves are called nopales and are often made into salsa, and the fruit of these is sometimes called “tuna,” and is also edible. The official name of the plant is opuntia.