While the bright, red Claret Cup barrel cactus flowers may be taking center stage, prickly pear cactus flowers are awaiting their turn at bat. Between the different gardens I frequent there are different varieties of these blooming wonders. I don’t know all their names – but definitely appreciate their beauty!
They’re definitely sun worshippers and await the full sun on them to slowly open throughout the morning. When the sun hits them just right, the petals can appear translucent. Often I’m too early to capture them in their fully-opened state. But being they prefer the blasting afternoon sun far more than I, I’m grateful when my timing is right!
Prickly pear cactus flowers are relatively short-lived blooms. They only seem to last a day or so before they crumple and shrivel up. Timing really is tricky with these little fellas. I keep telling myself I’ll go back to the gardens in the afternoon after a morning photo session – but that has yet to happen. Usually by then the mosquitos have had their fill of my O-Positive blood (apparently their preference) and the thought of round two of bug spray application does not put me in my happy place.
Let the Budding Begin!
About mid-to late May you begin to see buds appear on the prickly pear cactus plants. And there are many!! Some of these plants are quite large and sprawling. They appear to like their xeriscape garden digs! So walking around, I take notice of all these budding plants. I do find it interesting that they thrive so well living under pine trees.
Black Knight prickly pears have become a favorite. With their purple colored paddles and buds, I now know they produce these amazingly bright magenta flowers! The other green budding plants usually give way to the yellow colored flowers that are probably more well known.
Prickly Pear Cactus Flowers: Magenta Pink, Yellow and Peach Colored Translucent Petals
I know there are many varieties and colors of prickly pear cactus plants. They are quite ubiquitous within the flora of the southwest. And given my love of photographing cactus flowers, a visit to Saguaro National Park is now officially on my bucket list! The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum looks pretty cool too!
Closer to home in Colorado, the Black Knight prickly pears with their magenta pink flowers are stunning! These are actually the first to bloom in the local gardens – and bloom they do. The flowers are beautiful!!
Then the yellow flowering prickly pear cactus – which I believe are Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus? come to life. These bright yellow flowers eventually turn into nubby, red, prickly pears. They are edible and apparently quite delicious having the texture of watermelon and a mild pear taste. I’ll have to take others words on this as I have not actually eaten them. I love pears – but the texture of watermelon not so much!
I love the translucent appearance of the yellow flower petals. And when a peach colored one blooms, I’m even happier! There are a couple of plants in the gardens that seem to give way to both of these colors – but again it’s all about timing to capture photos of them. Here are a few more photos of these flowering beauties to enjoy…
Bees Literally Bee-line for These Flowers!
Bees go absolutely crazy for prickly pear flowers. I mean we are talking head-first, bee-lining into these. It’s kinda crazy to watch as it’s rather frantic. At times there will be multiple bees in one flower vying for position in their pollen gathering efforts. Their bodies doted with and often completely covered in pollen. These are not honey bees – but another species of which I do not know the name? But they are busy none-the-less!
Nature’s Resiliency – a Balancing Act
This particular prickly pear plant caught my eye. And given its unusual state, felt it deserved a mention in this post.
Standing – or more like balancing in a sandy mound of the gardens, it looked precarious. But there it stood by itself in the sand.
At all of maybe 8-10 inches tall it looked like it could fall over at any moment. One side of its upper paddle had been completely chewed away by a rabbit – or some other creature frequenting the gardens. Perhaps its small size made it quite a tender plant? Who knows?
The odds did not look in favor of this little fella. However, not only did it remain standing, but as you can see in the photo, it had new growth emerging from it.
You gotta love Nature’s resiliency. A testament to determination! 🙂