Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Red and green

with 12 comments


In a nature area along Yaupon Drive on December 8th something small and bright red in the distance caught my eye. Once I walked over to it I saw that it was the ripe fruit of a balsam gourd vine, Ibervillea lindheimeri, that had draped itself over the pad of a prickly pear cactus, Opuntia engelmannii. On another pad I noticed that one of the vine’s slender tendrils had coiled tightly around one of the prickly pear’s spines.



Back on October 21st I’d taken a picture in which cactus provided both red and green. That time the cactus wasn’t a prickly pear but Cylindropuntia leptocaulis, known as pencil cactus because of its slender joints (leptocaulis means ‘thin stalk’) and Christmas cactus because of its many small fruits that ripen to bright red. You can see that below from our stop at the I-20 Wildlife Preserve in Midland on our zig-zag way back to Austin, where this species also happens to grow.



© 2022 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 25, 2022 at 4:29 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

12 Responses

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  1. beth

    December 25, 2022 at 5:32 AM

  2. The fruit draped over the prickly pear is delightfully similar to a decoration hung from a Christmas tree. I enjoyed the especially fruitful pencil cactus, too, but that tendril-wrapped spine’s certainly appealing. I always wonder what leads tendrils to take ‘this’ form or ‘that.’


    December 25, 2022 at 8:52 AM

    • My first take on the fruit, from a distance, was a small red balloon. It does have the look of a decoration hung from a Christmas tree. As for the tendril, I don’t remember ever seeing one, whether from a balsam gourd or any other vine, wrapped around a prickly pear spine. I’ve often thought that vine tendrils know how to do one thing in life: coil. The form of the coiling may vary from species to species.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 25, 2022 at 1:11 PM

  3. That prickly pear looks really Christmasy!


    December 25, 2022 at 11:05 AM

  4. I like your take on Christmas colours!

    Ann Mackay

    December 25, 2022 at 12:23 PM

  5. Nice Christmassy bauble on the heart shaped Opuntia pad.

    Steve Gingold

    December 25, 2022 at 6:30 PM

  6. […] may remember how on December 8th I spotted a bright red balsam gourd fruit hanging on a prickly pear cactus pad. As I walked to the end of that photo session a different red came into sight, namely that of our […]

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