Ethel M is a company that makes gourmet chocolates in an unusual place, Las Vegas, Nevada. Actually it’s in Henderson. Ethel M Chocolates have been around for almost 40 years. Good son Forrest Mars created the company in his mother’s honor and chose Nevada because liqueur-filled cordials were legal there. This is a branch of the company that makes 3 Musketeer and Snickers bars. Their gourmet chocolates are made in small batches with no preservatives, and they are delicious. Also on this chocolate factory’s premises is the largest cactus garden in Nevada, the other reason for traveling to Ethel M. Ruth and I saw it for a 2nd time earlier this year. We were on a tour with about 20 women, mostly Air Force wives, and 2 men.
The Ethel M Cactus Garden attracts about 65 varieties of hummingbirds, but we saw none that day. It strives to focus on plants native to Nevada and the Mojave Desert. Near the middle of the Mojave, this cactus garden specializes in unusual cacti and reportedly cultivates more than 300 species of it and other desert plants. One of my favorites was called the Shin Dagger. Actually an agave, Shin Dagger is only found in the Chihuahuan Desert that does not stretch to Nevada. This agave’s long, rigid, and sharp shoots can penetrate clothing, even leather. Cowboys named them Shin Daggers for this characteristic. We also saw Cow’s Tongue, Paper Spine, and Purple Pancake cacti. Paper Spines look like long fingernails and Purple Pancakes look like Mickey Mouse.
Two common desert plants are featured in the Ethel M Cactus Garden, the Joshua Tree and the Saguaro. Our host told us that Mormons named the Joshua tree, which I should have known. I read recently that Joshua Trees may disappear in a global warming era. He also told us that Saguaros can live for 200 years and don’t sprout arms until they’re about 75, which I did know. Our host showed us a Saguaro planted in this garden in 1985 that is just beginning to grow arms. I hadn’t seen the internal structure of a Saguaro until I visited the Ethel M Cactus Garden.
This is a tour worth taking. After it Ruth & I sampled and bought some of Ethel M’s chocolates as a gift for our Las Vegas host. Keny was thrilled with them.
ps Both Cow’s Tongue and Purple Pancake are in the prickly pear family, and the 2nd photo above is 3 Shin Daggers.