The subjects of two recent successive posts—one from California and one from Texas—were epiphytes, organisms that grow on animate or inanimate objects for physical support but not for sustenance. Once in a while the seed of a plant that normally grows in the ground manages to take hold on something above the ground and survive, thus becoming an epiphyte. That was the case with the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia spp.) that I saw on November 8th in the cleft of a giant saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) in the eastern section of Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona.
Given the huge size difference between the two types of cacti, you can’t see the prickly pear well in the photograph above, but you’re welcome to click the excerpt below to zoom in for a closer look.
* In spite of my hope that the phrase “opportunistically epiphytic” would be unique, an Internet search turned up one other example.
© 2016 Steven Schwartzman