Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Prickly pear flower opening

with 13 comments

Click for greater clarity.

As I mentioned last time, Austin’s prickly pear cacti, Opuntia engelmannii, were laden with buds by the middle of April this year. Some of those buds were already opening, and others have appeared and opened in the days since then. I photographed this one in St. Edward’s Park on April 20. In contrast to the previous picture, which let you look at an opening bud from the side, this one provides a mostly downward view of a bud in a slightly later stage of development.

There are lots of deer in my hilly part of Austin, and they find many a tasty plant to eat—including those in people’s gardens—but deer aren’t likely to nibble at such a well-defended flower.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 29, 2012 at 1:43 PM

13 Responses

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  1. I see I’ve got a bit behind here–how wonderful to tour what you’ve put up in the past few days. That passion vine tendril is particularly striking as you’ve photographed it, and I love seeing two phases of the prickly pear.

    Susan Scheid

    April 29, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    • And another prickly pear flower picture to come. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the pictures you’ve seen while catching up. The passion vine tendril has proved to be the most popular recent photograph.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 29, 2012 at 2:51 PM

  2. another fantastic shot!

    H2O by Joanna

    April 29, 2012 at 2:17 PM

  3. Wow.. Those are some scary looking needles… Protecting such a pretty bud!

    Just A Smidgen

    April 29, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    • I’ve learned to move slowly when I’m working around prickly pears, white prickly poppies, and bull nettle (which you haven’t seen in these pages yet), all of which have pretty flowers that can be hard to get close to.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 29, 2012 at 2:56 PM

  4. This series is very interesting to see! I have always like prickly pear anyway.


    April 29, 2012 at 10:31 PM

  5. Your prickly pear blossom just happens to be sporting 2012’s hot new fashion color: Tangerine Tango
    It can be seen here: http://www.oregonlive.com/hg/index.ssf/2012/03/tangerine_tango_a_hot_new_colo.html

    Whether wearing it, or decorating your home, it is the must have color this year. 😉 Me? Wouldn’t be caught dead in it. It is however, gorgeous for a flower such as yours.
    ~ Lynda


    April 30, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    • I guess this is a case of fashion imitating nature—hardly for the first time (even if the fashion folks had a different plant in mind). And I guess in my state, with all its prickly pears, we have a right to call the color Texas tango. If it were redder we could go with tuna tango.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 30, 2012 at 10:04 AM

  6. Well defended is a perfect way to describe this flower! Hope you post a photo of it opened!


    May 1, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    • As much as I enjoy playing with words, I can’t claim originality when it comes to the phrase “well defended,” which is used in botanical books.

      And as you’ve already found in the next post, I did indeed show the inside of a prickly pear flower.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 1, 2012 at 1:47 PM

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