The cactus below is known as the Golden Barrel Cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) and as you can see from the photograph it has a spherical shape. Apparently, due to the destruction and the consequent reduction of its natural habitat in east-central Mexico and is said to be "rare and critically endangered in the wild". The cactus grows in volcanic rock on slopes, at altitudes around 1,400 metres (4,600 ft).
Every time I see this plant, I recall an unfortunate childhood encounter I had with it when I was four years old. I was playing the children's game "blind man's buff" at a friend's birthday party and I was blindfolded. Then someone pushed me and I fell backwards and had the misfortune of sitting on the Golden Barrel Cactus. The pain was excruciating like having a dozen or more injections at the same time. When I think back, my mind boggles and I cannot understand what the host must have been thinking to have a cactus indoors as a container plant at a children's birthday party. Even the Wikipedia entry for Blind man's buff states under the paragraph entitled Gameplay that, "Blind man's buff is ideally played in an area free of dangerous obstructions so that the "It" player will not suffer injury from tripping over or hitting something." Needless to say that I survived this close encounter with the Golden Barrel Cactus and had to leave the children's birthday party rather unexpectedly even before the cake had been served. I think the moral of this blog post is to remind people not to have these plants indoors at a children's birthday party or indeed in their house if there are young children around.