Cow tongue prickly pear

Early May 2021 | Phoenix, Arizona

One type of Prickly Pear that is used here as an ornamental plant is the Cow Tongue Prickly. Instead of ovoid, its pads are shaped like — cow tongues. I don’t see much of a difference between its flowers and those of the Engelmann’s Prickly Pear. The last picture here is of a flower of an Engelmann’s with a bee feeding on it.

Cow Tongue and Engelmann’s are not different species. They are varieties of the same species, Opuntia engelmannii. Engelmann’s variety is engelmannii. Cow tongue is inguiformis. This is according to Wikipedia, “Opuntia engelmannii.”

Engelmann’s Prickly Pear flowers look like those of a Cow Tongue’s (previous photo). It seems to me that bees have unpacked the stamens in this flower.

Am I obsessed with Prickly Pears?

Mid-April 2021 | Phoenix, Arizona

Frankly, I’m obsessed with Prickly Pear cactuses. I live with an obsessive personality, so shouldn’t I find myself obsessed with something?

This is only the second Prickly Pear clump that I’ve seen that has red flowers:

While I’m at it, here are photos of the yellow-flowered Prickly:

Beavertail Prickly Pear — what I forgot to tell you

When I posted yesterday a picture of a Beavertail Prickly Pear cactus — Opuntia basilaris — I neglected to mention that I rescued these pads.

I found them along a sidewalk when I was walking in the neighborhood. Interestingly enough, there was no mother plant in sight.

Prickly Pears, ten days later

Mid-April 2021 | Phoenix, Arizona

In late March, I saw my first Prickly Pear flower.

About ten days later, this Englemann’s Prickly was in full bloom:

This next picture is a Prickly Pear with red flowers. It is not common. My sister calls this a Beavertail species, but I see other Prickly Pears that are Beavertails whose pads look different (see the end of this post).

This is a Beavertail that I rescued. Its pads are velvety without thorns. I have yet to see one with flowers this year.

Cactuses – early spring flowers I

Late March 2021 | Phoenix, Arizona

Do you say ‘cactuses’ for the plural of ‘cactus’, or do you say ‘cacti’? Does spellcheck reject ‘cactuses’? Do you say ‘focuses’ for the plural of ‘focus’, or do you say ‘foci’? Both plurals appear in my American Heritage Dictionary. Spellcheck for WordPress rejects ‘cactuses’. Microsoft Word accepts it.

For me, ‘cacti’ is a bit pretentious, so I prefer ‘cactuses’.

Regardless, I spotted these flowering early in the season. The first is an Engelmann’s Prickly Pear:

This cactus is a Hedgehog:

My desert rescue garden

I have a patio garden in the back and three plants near the entrance to my apartment.

Only one of my plants is not a desert plant. The others are cactuses or succulents.

I grew my saguaros (SWAH rohz) from seed, but otherwise I rescued everything else.

These first pictures are of my three small saguaros. These are about 18 years old. The size of the pots limits their growth. In nature, they grow up to twenty feet tall when mature.

On the right you’re looking at a Buckhorn Cholla (CHOE yah). I found it uprooted by a sidewalk. There was no disturbance of soil to indicate that it had simply toppled over. I left it where it was and only took it the next day. No one else was likely to retrieve it at that point. The plant on the left is a Firestick. Neighbors were pruning theirs and would have thrown away the branches. Two more branches took root, but they died during this past brutal, record-setting summer. The branches turn red, hence the name Firestick.

These two Agaves (ah GAH vayz) were bulbils hanging from a flower stalk. Bulbils fall off, and some lucky ones take root. The mother plant was growing near my patio. Landscapers have since removed the mature plant since it only flowers once, when it’s a couple dozen years old. Agaves are commonly called Century Plants. People claimed that they flowered only when they were 100 years old, a myth. They were probably called Sentry Plants. The tall, upright flower stalks — taller than a person — seemed as though they were standing guard. People heard ‘sentry’ and thought that the word was ‘century’, giving birth to its common name. See earlier posts about Agaves.

This next picture is of a barrel cactus. The Compass Barrel cactus is named Ferocactus cylindraceus. Ferocactus wislizeni, Fishhook Barrel cactus, looks the same to me. My sister found this cactus growing next to a wall on her property. It wasn’t a good place for it, so she had me take it home to be potted. This was about a year and a half ago. It would seem to have sprouted from seed.

The following cactus is a Beavertail Prickly Pear. Young prickles on the pads feel like fuzz and don’t penetrate the skin. This is not the case with the better known Prickly Pear (next). I’ve never seen fruits on a Beavertail. This one probably grew from seed. It was growing alongside a wall next to my parking lot — no place for any plant. Birds figure into seeding new plants. They eat fruits, seeds fail to digest, and come out in droppings. So where do you find bird droppings? Where the birds perch, such as on a wall or fence. If I hadn’t rescued this plant, landscapers would have discarded it if they noticed it.

I found a small detached pad from a Prickly Pear alongside its mother plant near my front yard. It would have also been discarded by landscapers if I hadn’t rescued it. I soaked it in water, and roots began to grow. I tucked the pad into soil, it took, and you see its new growth. It may not be able to grown larger in this small pot. We’ll see. Notice its vicious thorns.

I don’t know the identity of the following two plants. Both are succulents and are also growing near my front door. I believe that I water these too much. I may be killing the first one.

This Red Cedar stands out. Of the plants that I have, this is the only one that doesn’t belong in Phoenix’s climate. The realtor who sold us the condo gave it to us as a rooted slip. It was about four inches tall.

So now let me sit on the patio and sip a cup of hot tea with sugar. When summer comes, it might be iced tea.

Prickly Pear May flowers and new fruits

May 2020

A flower of the Beavertail Prickly:

A Beavertail Prickly doesn’t have spines on its pads like the Engelmann’s Prickly:

This is an Engelmann’s Prickly. Its spines are prominent. Its flowers have given way to the this season’s pears. I’ll keep my eye on these pears to see when they ripen. One purple, ripe pear remains from last season:

I harvested pears from this clump last January. I plan to enjoy these when they ripen. As I wrote, I have yet to know when these pears will ripen: