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Starting Friday, September 18th, you will discover a world of amazing plants every time you visit the Houston Botanic Garden.
Winding down a stone path amidst tall cacti will transport you to the Sonoran Desert. Ducking under Musa (banana) leaves and sidestepping a Hymenocallis (spider lily) collection while gazing at enormous Colocasia (elephant ears) will have you feeling like you have entered the awe-inspiring Amazon. Brushing up against flowering Pennisetum macrourum (African feather grass) swaying in the breeze could make you think you should be on the lookout for the wildlife of the Serengeti.
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Consider the beautiful and fascinating Opuntia (prickly pear cactus), which has held great importance to many people and cultures. Myth tells us that the god Huitzilopochtli prophesied that the Aztecs needed to leave home and travel until they saw an eagle perched on a prickly pear cactus eating a snake. They did so, and built the great capital city Tenochtitlan, which means “place of the prickly pear cactus,” at that spot. Tenochtitlan is now the historic center of Mexico City, and the Mexican flag features the image of the prickly pear cactus, eagle, and snake. The prickly pear cactus is also the state plant of Texas, appears in several cuisines of the Americas, and is used to make needles, containers, and medicines.
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Opuntia is one of the many plants we are highlighting during the Houston Botanic Garden’s four opening season weekends, beginning Sept. 18-20, with Celebrating Latin America. During each opening season weekend, chefs, herbalists, historians, and more will share fascinating stories of how plants have transformed cultures, brought people together, and shaped our world. As just one example, as part of Celebrating Latin America, Chilean chef Pilar Hernandez will demonstrate how to properly cut a prickly pear paddle and share how they are used in Latin American cuisine. Similar lectures and demonstrations on future weekends will highlight plants from Asia (Oct. 2-4), Africa (Oct. 16-18), and the Mediterranean (Oct. 30-Nov. 1).

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Houston is a global city, connected to all corners of the world through its residents and industries. At the Houston Botanic Garden, you can connect with plants from around the globe and gain a deeper understanding of their significance to history, culture, and ecology. If you need a break from your everyday and want to discover something new, while enjoying the refreshing and renewing power of nature, come celebrate Houston’s diversity by experiencing the biodiversity of Houston’s new museum for plants.

All who visit, whether members or not, will need a timed ticket to enter the Garden. This is just one of the precautions we are taking to ensure that our visitors are safe. We will have hand sanitizers, social distancing reminders, increased cleaning, and no-touch experiences as much as possible, and are requiring masks for anyone 10 and older.  Please visit hbg.org/visit for directions to the Houston Botanic Garden. We look forward to seeing you in the Garden!

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Claudia Gee Vassar
President & General Counsel
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