Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Prickly pear flower interior

with 17 comments

Click for greater clarity.

The prickly pear, Opuntia engelmannii, is far and away the most common cactus in central Texas, and its flowers are among the most attractive we have. As you’ve been reading in these pages, by the middle of April this year our prickly pear flowers in Austin were beginning to open in various locations, but the one shown here was among the few in my neighborhood on April 15 that had opened wide enough for me to look down into and photograph its interior. The red surrounding the center of the flower leads me to believe this cactus was Opuntia engelmannii var. engelmannii (there’s also a var. lindheimeri).

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 30, 2012 at 5:35 AM

17 Responses

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  1. So wonderful! Great shot!


    April 30, 2012 at 6:13 AM

  2. The prickly pear needs to hire you as its PR person. I’ve spent my entire time in Texas thinking, “Prickly pear – common, undistinguished, pretty enough, monochromatic flower”. Uh – not exactly. Where has all this red and orange come from? The wonderful, waxy-looking bud? The intricate petals?

    I shall repent of my inattentive ways and stop to visit the prickly pear on Davis Road this very day. I believe I saw some buds there last week.


    April 30, 2012 at 6:57 AM

    • I’ve been working for the prickly pear for some time now, but only its spines and glochids have paid me so far. Well, not really: I’ll count the slew of pictures payment as well.

      I most often find the prickly pear flowers in my area to be all yellow (except for the slightly greenish stigma at the center), but I’m especially attracted to the smaller number of flowers that have a lot of reddish-orange at their base, like the one shown here.

      It’s good that these recent photographs of prickly pears have caused you to repent. Happy repentance, happy viewing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 30, 2012 at 7:14 AM

  3. I like this photo very much, Steve.


    April 30, 2012 at 7:27 AM

  4. Sooo pretty… I’ve seen some Prickly Pear recipes going round here.. is this the same thing??

    Just A Smidgen

    April 30, 2012 at 8:25 AM

  5. Great shot! It’s a beautiful flower and some of the colors they have are just amazing!


    April 30, 2012 at 10:12 AM

  6. Spectacular! I agree with shoreacres: the prickly pear could not have a better PR person than you are!

    Susan Scheid

    April 30, 2012 at 8:43 PM

    • And my fees would be quite reasonable, too. Maybe that’s why so many other native species have hired me to promote them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 30, 2012 at 9:11 PM

  7. Very pretty…glad you posted the flower opening…even though I figured you would!!!!


    May 1, 2012 at 1:42 PM

  8. […] past April you got a look at the attractive flower of the prickly pear cactus, Opuntia engelmannii, and since August I’ve been seeing this species’ ripening fruits, […]

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