This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Under this title the Gardeners' Chronicle has the following paragraph:
"We take the following from an Anglo-Italian journal, which evidently accepts the statement in full confidence. What a pity editors of public journals do not take the advice of their confreres of the horticultural press before printing such rubbish. We have seen cuttings thrust into potatoes to keep them fresh; has some hoaxing 'Yank' seen something of this kind and invented the rest? 'A great discovery has been made on the Mojave desert, which seems destined to revolutionize viticulture in Southern California. It has been found that grape cuttings inserted in the trunks of the Cacti on the desert grow and thrive as vigorously as in cultivated land. This fact is of great importance to the people. By the use of a chisel a man can plant a large vineyard in a day, and the vine so planted will climb the Cactus and grow luxuriously without cultivation or irrigation. The dry, hot sands of the desert will afford a fine place for drying raisins. In addition to grapes it has been proved that melons, cucumbers, and tomatoes will grow from the cactus stock, so that the desert may soon blossom as the rose.' "
Remembering the fearful trash of a horticultural character that we have been reading of late in the public journals, the pen was taken to commend the above when we remembered a curious experience of the writer. A sedge grass was found growing, and apparently thriving, out of a potato! Cutting it open it appeared that a stolon of Cyperus hydra, the nut grass of the South, had thrust itself into a potato the fall previous, and after forming a tuber the size of a hazelnut, went to rest. In the spring the tuber grew as if it were in the ground, and the leaves came through on the outside, and the roots fed on the internal structure of the potato. Now it occurs to us, not that the grape or other plants would graft on the cactus, that is to say the cells unite one with the other as graft and stock do, but that it is just possible they might send out roots into the fleshy matter of the huge barrel cactuses of the desert, and thus live for some time. The only difficulty in the way would be that the plants named are known to feed only on decaying vegetable matter, and if they lived at all in the condition described, they could only do so by destroying the tissue, and, as in the case of the potato, the cactus would rot in time.
In short we have no idea that the story is true, but the bare possibility that there may be some truth - some fire for so much smoke - leads us to make these remarks. Perhaps a plant has been seen to grow out of a dead or dying cactus.