This cactus, in the desert house in the Belle Isle Conservatory in Detroit, is I think, an Opuntia ficus-indica. Who was the first person to decide that they should carve their names on this cactus? How did they know that it would heal over and callous this way? Were they afraid of being caught? Did they care if they were? This is a public garden and I wonder how the thousands of people who see this each year, feel about this. Do they think it is romantic, cute, or do they think it horrible? How much more can this plant take, before it decides it has been cut too much?
When did the practice of carving names in plants begin? Who found out that using a knife on beech tree bark would be there forever?
I just found out about the autograph plant, very popular in Florida. The Clusia rosea has thick, leathery leaves that people scratch their names on. Guests at people's homes are encouraged to do this and have their pictures taken next to it. This can also be used as a houseplant, here in the Northern climes, but I can tell you, people wouldn't be scratching their names on it, in my home.
I have to admit, though, that I have seen this done to pumpkins and think it is quite ingenious. So, does that make me a hypocrite? I guess it does. If something is going to be thrown on the compost heap in November, I guess I feel, no harm done. But, on the other hand, beech trees and this poor Opuntia, live for a very long time, defaced and scarred for all to see.