Thursday, April 3, 2008

Prickly Pear Flower

The flowers on the Engelmann Prickly Pear (Opuntia engelmannii) come in late March to late April, and last just one day. Once spent, the flowers then form edible fruit called pears. The flowers can be yellow, yellow-orange, or orange-yellow. This year the flowers on my cactus have far more orange in them than in previous years. I have no idea causes this color variation from year to year.

Engelmann Prickly Pear is an important food source for a variety of wildlife who feed on the flowers, fruit, and even the pads. The fruit ripens in July and August, and the birds and beetles devour the ripest pears in just a few days. Javelina, deer, desert tortoises, and rabbits do not have access to my garden, but if they did, they too would snack on the ripe pears

Engelmann Prickly Pear is the most common of the prickly pear cactus found in the Sonoran Desert. More information on this cactus is available in some of my previous posts.

General Information

Cochineal Scale


Nancy J. Bond said...

A unique and pretty bloom!

Kelly said...

Wow! The flowers are beautiful. Have you ever eaten the fruit?

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

I have a prickly pear in the upper pasture, but I don't know what variety it is. It blooms yellow at the beginning of summer, I think. I haven't walked up there lately.

Lovely flower. Thanks for all the great info. you give us.~~Dee

Amy said...

People are often surprised that we have a native prickly pear cactus here (interior of British Columbia, Canada). It's certainly not an area anyone would normally associate with cactus!

Our family enjoys geocaching, and while setting up a new cache we discovered a patch of prickly pear cactus. We noted it on the website in order to warn people to watch out and not disturb the site (or walk through with sandals on!). We were surprised to learn that people were so excited to be able to see this native plant.

I read that it usually blooms in June, so we'll be going back with a camera to try to catch a sight of the lovely flowers.

Julie said...

Love that dark green center in the flower! I'm wondering if this is the same one I found blooming in the State Park was yellow with the orange in it too.

kate smudges said...

Your photograph of the Prickly Pear flower is wonderful for its detail.

No Rain said...

Various species of Prickly Pear can be found in many regions of the world. It is surprisingly hardy, and many species can take very cold weather.