Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Prickly pear bud

with 14 comments

Click for greater clarity.

Austin’s prickly pear cacti, Opuntia engelmannii, were laden with buds by the middle of April this year. I photographed this one in my northwestern Austin neighborhood on the morning of April 27. Note the outlines of several prickly pear pads in the background.

I often see prickly pear buds as flaming torches, but that’s probably just me; if you happen to see them like that or in some other imaginative way, please let us know.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 29, 2012 at 5:39 AM

14 Responses

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  1. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a bud – by the time I show up where the plants are, they’re already in flower or well past flowering. Or, more likely, I’ve just not paid attention. The colors are scrumptious, and certainly do resemble a torch.

    I’ve never had a flower from my spineless prickly pear, but it’s just now putting on some new pads. Since I’m limited to pots on a balcony, I think this will be the year to split it — a bigger pot and more dirt would be good, but I can’t move it around as it is.


    April 29, 2012 at 7:06 AM

    • It’s easy to be distracted from buds by the showy flowers of our cacti, but now that you’ve thought about the buds I expect you’ll see some. Thanks for confirming your view of a torch, and for the adjective “scrumptious.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 29, 2012 at 8:06 AM

  2. That was the first thing I thought when I saw it… the olympic torch! Although it is also reminiscent of a cornet of peach ice cream…


    April 29, 2012 at 7:09 AM

    • Good, another torch, and a famous one at that. Your cone (as we call it on this side of the Atlantic) of peach ice cream is a new image for me, but it has the virtue that, unlike a torch, you can eat it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 29, 2012 at 8:17 AM

  3. Beautiful colors, I love their fruit!
    Steve could you check something for me as a favor? I have this plant, tree in my backyard and I don’t know the name. Is blooming now: http://avian101.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/a-01374.jpg
    I’d appreciate it if you give me a hint. 🙂


    April 29, 2012 at 7:52 AM

    • These are among our most colorful flowers, and as you point out, their fruit is colorful as well (and edible, with care). I’m sorry that I don’t recognize the tree in the picture you linked to.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 29, 2012 at 8:20 AM

  4. I have so enjoyed seeing your beautiful pictures over the past months and, although I’m sure you probably already have one, I’ve nominated you for the Kreativ Blogger Award.

    Sue (Mac's Girl)

    April 29, 2012 at 8:29 AM

    • Congratulations, Sue; I’m glad that you’ve been recognized. Thanks for thinking of me, and for enjoying these pictures. When the question of awards arose last year, I made a decision that my blog and people’s comments on it would be reward enough for me. I hope you’ll understand. Thanks again for appreciating this blog devoted to nature photography.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 29, 2012 at 8:52 AM

  5. Well, now that you’ve pointed it out, I will likely see them any other way. 😉


    April 29, 2012 at 9:39 AM

    • Romeo said: “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!” And here is Steveo teaching that prickly pear buds look like torches burning bright.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 29, 2012 at 9:59 AM

  6. I have never seen one of these cactus flower but I sure do like what I see. It does in fact remind me of a torch!


    April 29, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    • Yay, another vote for a torch. In upcoming posts you’ll get at least two more views of this kind of flower, which is among our brightest and prettiest.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 29, 2012 at 10:27 AM

  7. I love the oddness of this one.


    April 30, 2012 at 10:13 AM

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