Blooming Prickly Pear Plants Never Fail to Disappoint

Peach and yellow prickly pear cactus flowers.

This year’s Claret Cup photos were limited due to the continued onslaught of their assault. However, thankfully the Prickly Pears plants saved the day! Apparently these cactus plants do not appeal to the nefarious individuals that insist on decimating the barrel cactus I so adore. Thank goodness for small favors! With discoveries of some new plants that yield other colored flowers, to say I am grateful is an understatement!

Side view, close up of yellow cactus flower and bud.
Freshly opening cactus flower with its pointy buds.

By about mid-June these plants really get going. As the mornings heat up with the advent of summer, these blooming cactus plants captivate you with their flowers.

Patience can be key as they may not be completely open upon my early morning arrivals. But they are definitely worth the wait.

The pointy buds I’ve been observing for weeks and photographing finally give way to an array of beautiful flower blooms.

Words alone cannot express how much I love photographing them!

A Spiny Affair

I’d say I definitely bonded with these Prickly Pear plants this year given the amount of spines I’ve pulled out of various parts of my body. It’s a pitfall of getting up close and personal to capture more intimate photos of these flowers. There have been a few “ouchies” but oh so worth it.

Pale yellow, side view of prickly pear flower with pointy buds.
Getting up close and personal to capture these blooming cactus flowers.

Time and again I give props to my thick garden kneeling pad. Lord knows I’ve plucked an abundance of cactus spines out of its underside. But better my garden pad than my knees! Seriously, these thick pads are a godsend for any type of activity where you have to spend time bending in awkward positions.

Cactus flower about to open with water droplets.
This prickly pear flower is dotted with water droplets and getting ready to open.
Yellow cactus flower with pointy green buds.

Just a photography side note – all of the photos taken are “hand-held” with my camera. In fact most of my photos are taken in that manner. No tripod is used. Hence why a thick garden pad is such an invaluable tool!

Prickly Pear Plants that Bear Multiple Colored Flowers

Peach and yellow prickly pear flowers.
This plant produces blooms in multiple colors in shades of yellow, orange and peach!

I have no clue of all the species of Prickly Pear plants – but clearly there are many. My visits to New Mexico and recently having paid a visit to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum this past April reflect this. Photos and a post of that adventure coming some time soon…

Close up of bright yellow cactus flower with green buds.
Yellow flowers from the more common Prickly Pear plants.

The yellow flowering prickly pear cactus – which I believe are Eastern Prickly Pear plant seems to be the most common. Black Knight prickly pears with their magenta pink flowers and purple colored paddles are stunning. But it’s the plants that produce a variety of colors of blooms that are a personal favorite. Particularly the plants with flowers in yellows, oranges and shades of peach. With their translucent flower petals kissed by the morning sun, I could sit there for hours photographing them.

Magenta pink Black Knight cactus flower.
Magenta pink flower from the Black Knight prickly pear cactus.
Flowering cactus plant.
Cactus plant that produces multi-colored flowers.

Is It the Primo Real Estate?

One of these colorful plants resides by the “primo” real estate of a big pine tree. This is the same spot that gave birth to so many different flowers this season. I find it interesting that they thrive so well under a pine tree. I wonder if it’s the soil or the right combo of sun and shade?

Prickly pear plant with yellow, orange and peach flowers.
Cactus plant with the “primo” real estate under the pine tree..You can see all the pine needles.

Regardless of the variety, they’re definitely sun worshippers and await the full sun on them to slowly open throughout the morning. Being they prefer the blasting afternoon sun far more than I, I’m grateful when my timing is right! Sadly the flower blooms have a relatively short life span. They only seem to last a day or so before they crumple up.

Prickly Pears, Pollen and Bees – Oh My!

Sunburst cactus flower with bee gathering pollen.
Bee gathering pollen in this “Sunburst” colored prickly pear flower.

I’m not the only one who welcomes these cactus flowers. Bees are definitely all in for them too. The various species of bees that gather pollen from them seem pretty happy that they’re blooming. And this year I’ve paid closer attention to the different varieties that visit them. 

Bee taking a pollen bath in cactus flower.
This bee appears to be taking a pollen bath!

While orange belted bumble bees and honey bees tend to visit the Foxtail Lilies, there is a different variety of bee that visits these flowers. Rather that having the little pollen sacs on their legs like other bees, these seem to gather pollen on their body and undersides. Perhaps it’s a species of a cactus bee? Gonna have to refer to my bee book. Perhaps that will be more telling of this bee species?

Bee gathering pollen in yellow cactus flower.
Looking closely and you see how the pollen is sticking to this bee’s underside.

These bees are rather frantic vying for position in their pollen gathering efforts. They dive head first into the flower eventually exiting with their bodies completely covered in pollen. Often two or three bees can be trying to navigate the same flower One eventually gets the boot – or as I like to call it “no room at the inn”. 

All in all I’d say it was a good season for photo ops of these flowers. I’m once again grateful for the beauty of Nature 🙂

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