Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for August 2nd, 2011

Prickly pear pad structure

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Prickly Pear Fibers 0392

When I went back on July 26 to Brushy Creek Lake Park, the scene of last year’s coreopsis colony and this season’s expectant snow-on-the-mountain colony, I also came upon a dead prickly pear cactus (Opuntia engelmannii). When this type of cactus dies, the outer covering of each pad decomposes and reveals the complex inner structure. The chambers among the fibers shown here once held cells that retained water, but now those interstices are filling in with sand, small pebbles, and other bits of debris blown by the wind.

One form of water that this type of cactus only occasionally encounters in Austin is ice, but the structure of these fibers strikes me as somehow similar to patterns in ice that I recently saw in a post called Fractured River, in the blog Purple Shoe Photography. Follow the link and, if you feel so inclined, tell in a comment whether you too see a resemblance between these two unrelated things.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 2, 2011 at 5:24 AM

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