Claret Cup Hedgehog Barrel Cactus Flowers and Buds

Hedgehog cactus flowers and buds.

I was grateful to have captured photos of the flowering Hedgehog cactus during my time in Santa Fe. Closer to home, I was able to capture some images of my beloved Claret Cup cactus plants. Thankfully, this was before they were completely decimated by some nefarious individual. Insert long list of expletives here:____________________!!!

It still breaks my heart knowing that these beautiful plants are now nothing more than stumps. While cactus plants can be resilient, given the extent of the carnage, it’s unlikely that these plants will make a comeback. So again I’m grateful for the photos I was able to get, but seeing them taking down in their prime of blooming is just a criminal!!

Little did I realize that the Claret Cup Hedgehog cactus is actually Colorado’s State cactus!! 

From Budding to Blooms – Then Cut Short Literally!!

Budding claret cup cactus plant.
Little hedgehog barrel cactus plant covered in red, nubby buds.

My favorite little Claret Cup hedgehog barrel cactus was a happy little plant. Watching it grow over the last few years was a gift. It sat on the periphery of one of the xeric gardens. This exposure may have contributed to its demise. As seen in the photo above, it was primed for a great blooming cycle. When in full bloom the little fella was hard to miss. It almost screamed “look at me, look at me”. Its flowers were perfection!

Because of where it grew I was able to capture some unique angles of the budding to bloom sequence. As I often like to get these overhead views, this little fella was a perfect model! Unlike other budding and or flowering plants that are subject to the whims of the wind, cactus buds and flowers stay put!! Their stationary existence makes life much easier for a flower photographer.

My goal this season was to capture the entire cycle – from the little red buds to the plant completely in bloom. The brilliance of the waxy, red flowers are magnificent! Since this event was cut short both figuratively and literally, I captured what I could…

Call me the crazy cactus flower lady, but I was incredibly enamored with this little plant. I’d thank it for its beauty and express tons of gratitude towards its existence. You can see by the last image how devastating a loss it’s been 🙁

Another Claret Cup Barrel Cactus Plant

Another of my favorite plants to photograph (that was also targeted by the criminals), also has a primo spot in the xeric gardens. A larger plant, it tends to bud and bloom a bit earlier. It’s hard to miss when in full bloom – again with its bright red flowers. It’s focal point likely contributed to its demise – then again, sadly, NONE of these plants remained unscathed!

Red claret cups cactus flowers and buds.
Bright red flowers and nubby buds on this cactus plant. Notice the Allium seed-heads in the background.

It’s not as easy to photograph this plant from multiple angles, but I believe it still provided me with some lovely shots. The Allium going to seed-head in the background gives this photo different textures I love. Thankfully, I was able to get some photos of the budding and flowering sequence before it too was reduced to mere stumps!

Bouncing Back from Previous Criminal Carnage

This much larger barrel cactus plant resides at another location. It had faced serious carnage by someone who thought by eating sections of it they’d get high. WTF??!! Thankfully this individual was apprehended! I’m glad I learned about this plant AFTER the guy was caught. Otherwise I would have gone batshit crazy seeing the over 50 SECTIONS that had been hacked away!

Garden pad impaled with long white cactus spines.
Garden pad impaled with long, white cactus spines.

Given the girth of the plant, thankfully I had my trusty, thick garden pad with me. Finding a good thick one took some research as many are quite thin. But this one is quite beefy.

Wisdom has taught me that having this as an essential piece of gear is paramount. Otherwise as you can see in the photo, the long spines embedded in my pad would likely have wound up in various parts of my body.

You don’t mess with these things if you want to get up close and personal to take barrel cactus flower photos. These long, white spines make for some serious armor!

So these photos of this cactus plant are what I call Nature’s resiliency to make an amazing comeback despite the odds!

Here you can see its buds and flowers. If you could see up close just how badly this plant was attacked, you too would be in awe that it came back with such vigor. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it remains untouched by nefarious human hands in the future. May it bud and bloom big and bright again next year 🙂

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