Sunday, April 28, 2013


The saying goes "April showers bring May flowers", but that is not the case in the desert Southwest!  Yes, it did sprinkle while we were gone to the Carolinas - rained all of .12" total on the 8th and 9th of April, otherwise has been 20 February since we had nearly .5"...  Of course, we're entering the dry period of the year - we're unlikely to get much of anything till the monsoonal flow stars up in early July.

But thankfully we don't depend on the rain to
provide springtime blooms.  While Winter rains can provide a good wildflower display in February and March, April and May are peak cactus flower season, and driving around town on Saturday just about knocked me for a loop with the displays of prickly pear and cholla cacti, which seem totally independent of rainfall.  The basic colors of prickly pear are yellow flowers, though you see tints tending towards peach too.  The varieties of purple plants with bright yellow flowers as shown here are just stunning!  I was able to catch a honeybee doing its thing on these blossoms too...

Down the block, wandering with my camera, I
found a huge prickly pear with the peach-colored flowers and amazingly, 21 buds on one pad of the plant!  usually you get a couple flower buds along the rim of a pad, but this might have been the most I've ever seen!  I wish I knew more about the different varieties - there seem to be dozens if not hundreds of prickly pear.  Note the flower buds at right - very different from at left.

The buds shown here are more in line with what is usually seen - some number of them along the rim of the pad.  Any given day one or more might bloom, but likely not all at once.  Flowers will last a day, but with all the buds the cactus will likely be in bloom for a couple weeks...
I mentioned cholla cacti above - there is a magnificent plant down the block that is a good 6 feet high with the most spectacular crimson flowers.  We don't have a lot of cholla in the neighborhood, but they have quite a range in flower coloration from green (!), oranges, reds and yellows. 
And perhaps most spectacular of all, Jack - our
neighbor down the block, has a trico cereus that is currently in bloom. I've actually blogged about it before - it is a spectacular plant, especially with the bloom set from 2 years ago (go to the link!).  Well, as I was doing my little neighborhood walk, I could tell one of the buds was about to pop open that night, so I took a picture of it, then at one hour intervals as it opened.  Shown here, from upper left it is shown over the 3 hour period.  The bottom two used flash for illumination, so forgive that... Then at right is one from early this morning before it closed.  We have a cereus night bloomer that opens later in the Summer with white flowers, but this Springtime flower is such a stunner...  Seems amazing that something so spectacular comes out of such an innocuous plant, and lasts for only a day!

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