The Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden

This Way To The Chocolate Factory!

This Way To The Chocolate Factory!

The Ethel M Chocolate Factory is located in Henderson at Two Cactus Garden Drive.  It is a locally-owned and operated chocolate factory, founded by Forrest Mars in 1981 when he retired to Henderson, NV.  The name Ethel M is in honor of his mother Ethel Mars.  This is the Mars family that is famous for chocolate candy like the famous “Mars Bar”.  Mars Inc. is still a family-owned business, belonging to the Mars family.

The Botanical Cactus Garden is a wonderful, four-acre garden of cactuses, succulents and other drought-tolerant ornamentals.  There is also a section devoted to Mojave native plants.  It is the largest such garden in Navada. The picture on the left shows a Saguaro cactus.  Doesn’t it look like it’s pointing the way to the chocolate factory?

Saguaro Cactus Skeletons

Saguaro Cactus Skeletons

The Saguaro cactus is a very popular landscape plant in the Southwest. Saguaro cactus skeletons are also very prized by desert landscapers, and they fetch a good price at local nurseries.  The ones pictured on the right are unusually large and make a very dramatic statement in this section of the garden.

Datura Flower

Datura Flower

There are more than just cactuses and succulents at the Botanical Cactus Garden. It also includes many flowering plants that thrive in our hot and arid desert environment. This is a Datura flower, a very dramatic looking flower that is found across the Southwest and into Mexico. Datura is also known as Jimson Weed. It is also both poisonous and hallucinogenic, and has been used for centuries by shamans and initiates seeking visions. However, be warned:  this is a dangerously toxic plant.  As one person put it, “the initiate, [if he lived], would definitely have visions”. Or in other words — don’t try this at home, kids.

Red Bird of Paradise Flower

Red Bird of Paradise Flower

Another beautiful shrub found in the Southwest is the so-called “Bird of Paradise”.  This desert-loving plant is not to be confused with the tropical flower of the same name.  Both are dramatic but look quite different from one another and of course, thrive in different habitats.  The one shown here is the Red Bird of Paradise, botanical name “Caesalpinia pulcherrima“.  There is also a yellow variety,Caesalpinia gilliesii“, also known as the Yellow or Desert Bird of Paradise.  As the name suggests, this variety is even more tolerant of the desert climate.

Well, there are lots of other beautiful plants at the Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden.  So if you are ever in Las Vegas, be sure to visit this little gem.  Especially in the spring, when the cactuses and shrubs are in bloom.  While you’re there you should also take a tour of the chocolate factory!  But we’ll save our chocolate factory tour for another time.

Until next time,

Good luck to ya!

Some links:

Ethel M Chocolates site:
http://www.ethelm.com/default.aspx

Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden page:
http://www.ethelm.com/about_us/cactus_garden.aspx

The Sun Gardens Bird of Paradise page:
http://www.sungardensinc.com/Shrubs/Bird-of-Paradise.html

The Sacred Datura page:
http://www.weepeeple.com/drawer/daturapage.htm

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