Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Buds and Blossoms

As the Arizona cactus flowering season continues, I've been keeping an eye out for interesting blossoms. I've mentioned before in these posts (check here for the 5 April post, or here for the 9 April post) that the flowers only last a day in the heat and dryness. While a large, branching cacti may have enough buds to flower for a week or two, some only have one or two buds, so you've got to have good timing to catch them! Anyway, here are a few of the recent photogenic results.

I'm not sure why this prickly pear appeals to me so much - probably because the pads are so small and cute. Images of the pads and buds have appeared in both the above posts, but finally the spreading bush of this cactus is finally flowering (it is mostly in shade, so is a little slower than those in the sun). Some pads only have flower buds on them and some have new pads AND buds. The large pads here are about 10cm (4") across, so buds, flowers and the new pads are tiny!

This is another prickly pear behind my neighbor Leenie and Mike's house. In all my years here, I've never seen a cactus quite like this (I need to get a book!). Huge thorns protruding from nodule-like bumps. These flower buds appeared a couple weeks ago, and I'll be watching for them to pop out soon.

This gorgeous flower is from a potted hedgehog cactus in the backyard of neighbor Jack (with the Cereus cacti flower post of 24 April). The hedgehog name generically applies to a large number of cacti species, but locally, if you see the bright cup-shape flowers, that is the name that you use. I've seen these at 7,000 feet elevation at Kitt Peak when I worked there decades ago growing out of seemingly solid rock. And of course, they are common to the desert floor as well.

This cholla (pronounced choy-ya) cactus has also made a previous appearance in our posts above, though the first time for the blossom. I remember years ago when I got a book on Arizona flowers that the ONLY green flower in the book was from the cholla cactus. And while not precisely not a green flower, it is definitely on the green side of yellow. But even if they are not a showy desert bloom, the bees still seem to find them, and the big bushy plant, over 2 meters (80") tall, has seemingly an endless supply of new ones every day.

The last image of today is actually from a mistreated Bishop's Cap cactus in our back yard - potted over a decade ago and rarely watered (and mostly under the eave of the house to boot!), it is the last survivor of the pot, yet every month or so in the Spring it sends out a set of buds with small 2cm (.75") diameter flowers. Melinda wants to reward it with a replanting in the front of the house - who knows how it would respond to some reasonable treatment!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice blossoms! Now a word of advice from a "Master"

Relocating shade adapted cacti can be difficult. When replanting cacti one must be very mindful of the orientation of the greatest amount of sun the plant is now accustomed to receiving.

Many cacti have thickened wax and surface structure on the sun facing sides.
Replant in such an orientation as to make use of this fact.

In addition, taking a cactus or succulent from nearly full shade of many years to full or part sun will require some adaptation in the form of staged shading to allow for the plant to adapt to the new circumstances.

Failing to do so will likely lead to stem and leaf burnout or dieback.