Prickly pear / nopales

Group:
I've just pruned back a rather large prickly pear! Given my experience, this will be the only time I do this!
I've discovered that I've now got hundreds of tiny hair like micro-spines in my hands. These are painful, but nothing more. I'm working away with a pair of tweezers, but many of the micros-spines are nigh on invisible. Any ideas how to remove them, or to stop them hurting?
Cheers
Den
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Shave them with a razor. That removes them quite effectively. Not an electric, the blade kind.
--
Charles

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Den said:

Love the flowers, hate having to weed or prune them. When I get a lot of stickers in me I use either packaging tape or duct tape. Lay a piece on, pull it off and toss it. Lay on a fresh piece and repeat.
A sharp tweezer with a built in magnifying lens is useful in hunting down stray prickles.
But I always get a few spines that get in beyond either remedy and I have to wait for these to fester out.
--
Pat in Plymouth MI ('someplace.net' is comcast)

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Hey Pat
Thanks for the advice - duck tape seems to have got rid of most of them!
Cheers
Den

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I've had the invisible glochids problem often with a number of massive cacti that decorate my landscape. I've learned NOT to use gloves unless I wan't to throw them away afterwards. Otherwise, the gloves will forever prick your skin.
Now I generally use various tools to push and cut the leaves without touching them with my hands, whether gloved or not.
Thanks, for the advice about duct tape. I'll remember to use it next time. I've also found that with repeatedly washing the pricked area with hot water will also work, but it takes several days for all the glochids to eventually work their way out of the skin.
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I don't know if it is a hardy variety of opuntia, but when I was in Santa Rosa recently I visited the home of Luther Burbank, and on the grounds were several massive specimens of a thornless opuntia he developed. It might be worth researching for those who like the flowers and fruit but hate the thorns.

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<< I've discovered that I've now got hundreds of tiny hair like micro-spines in my hands. >>
Those are called glochids. They have hooks on the end. They are unique to the genus Opuntia and its relatives. The more advanced cacti have only straight honest spines. You probably should see a dermatologist. Iris, Central NY, Zone 5a, Sunset Zone 40 "A tree never hits an automobile except in self defense." - Woody Allen
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I don't have a whole lot of experience pruning prickly pear cacti here in Ontario Canada but I was sent some as gifts by friends in the SW US along with instructions to use newspaper to handle the things, if handling was necessary.
They've overwintered here for almost three years now, producing copious amounts of amazingly beautiful flowers and fruit.
In any case, on the issue of mico-spines embedded in flesh:
Years ago when I didn't know any better and used fibreglass insulation, it would invariably leave irritating fibres embedded in all exposed flesh. Slathering on a layer of woodworkers glue, waiting for it to skin and then peeling off the skin would usually do the trick.
The same might work to remove the cacti pricks.
Den wrote:

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Next time, put on a pair of dishwashing gloves underneath your work gloves. Both will have to go in the garbage afterwards. I wonder if leather work gloves might be re-usable?
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Leather gloves don't work ... believe me!
D

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Pen said:

My experience says NO. Waste of good gloves. I'm with raycruzer, don't use gloves. Use tools and do your best not to touch the cactus at all. Keep some tape handy while you are working. I have a long handled weed-grabber and two sizes of needle-nosed pliers that I use when working around my prickly pear. When in bloom it's stunning, filling up a hot spot at the southwest corner of the house right up against the driveway.
--
Pat in Plymouth MI ('someplace.net' is comcast)

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Yikes! :)

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Pat uses a long handled weed-grabber and two sizes of needle-nosed plier to handle the cactus. I also use a long handled weeder called the weed twister (Ergonica). This tool has double-coiled tines that make it easy to poke and pick up the cuttings and then drop them into a waste basket. I also use it to remove weeds that are growing between cactus plants to keep my hands at a distance.
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