Prickly Pear In Bloom

Reminder:  You can enlarge any of the photos in this blog by clicking on it.  Click again for a full-screen image.

I thought I’d take an ever-so-brief timeout from the steady diet of arthropods and reptiles that I’ve been posting lately and show something that is simply pretty.  I promise: tomorrow I’ll be back to bugs ‘n lizards.

It’s peak blooming season right now for Prickly Pear cactus and the brilliant yellow blooms of these plants are visible everywhere.

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Take even a brief walk in the desert at Sabino Canyon and you will see hundreds of these plants with their brilliant lemon-yellow flowers.

Prickly Pear are probably the most common and the most successful variety of cactus that we have in our local desert.  If there are dozens of Saguaro per acre, there are hundreds of Prickly Pear.  Every part of this plant is edible, by the way, and it is a big source of food for desert herbivores such as deer, javelina, and pack rats.  I’ve watched deer placidly munching on Prickly Pear, not seeming to care that the plants’ spines are protruding everywhere from their faces.

And, that gets me to a final point about Prickly Pear. As beautiful as these cacti are, they are definitely not something to touch.  These plants have long and very sharp spines that resemble sewing needles.  They embed easily in one’s skin and they definitely hurt.  But that pales in comparison to the myriad of tiny spines — almost invisible to the naked eye — that cover these cacti.  Those spines are the real problem.  Brush your hand against a Prickly Pear and you’ll be cursing for days the tiny spines that are embedded in your fingers and almost impossible to find.

Image made with Canon 5Diii, 180 f3.5L Macro Lens assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, ISO 100, M setting, f13 @ 1/160.


One response to “Prickly Pear In Bloom”

  1. Liesl Kii says :

    Nice sign of spring in the desert!

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