Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cactus Flowers

My "spineless" prickly pear cactus is in full bloom right now. 


The bright yellow flowers last just a day and are a good source of pollen for bees. 


This bee hovered over the flower like a helicopter. I could not tell that it ever touched the pollen, although the pollen sacs on its back legs are full.

Enlarged.

When the flowers begin to close at dusk, they take on a peachy hue. 


The pollinated fruits of the cactus (tuna) will mature over the summer and change from green to purple.


A couple of tunas from last year are still clinging to the pads. They are visible in the lower left of this photo. They are edible and taste pretty good, but you have to be careful to remove the tiny spines. 

Well, this is not the post I intended for this week. I had planned a post about the pests (primarily insect) in my garden this year. I thought I had taken several photos, but it turns out that my memory card filled up much earlier than I realized and I did not get many shots. 

Note to self: Delete videos from the camera after they are downloaded to the computer.

Anyway, I "had" a great shot of a swamp milkweed leaf beetle laying eggs on my Mexican milkweed. After I took the picture, I squashed the bugs, so no retakes. Now that I think back, I did not remove the eggs. I guess it will not be long before I can have another photo opportunity with the destructive swamp milkweed leaf beetle.

15 comments:

  1. The evening colors are so pretty. We get very few tunas here since the wildlife takes them first.

    Those videos take up a lot of space. If you do get beetle photos, I would like to see them. My milkweed has disappeared and I don't know if it was the butterflies or beetles. I'll get more soon though.

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    1. Shirley, the milkweed beetle looks kind of like a ladybug on steroids. The pattern is different, but the colors are the same. I had a lot of Mexican milkweed last year and more monarch caterpillars than I have ever had. I never even noticed any leaf damage by the caterpillars. The swamp milkweed leaf beetles on the other hand have chewed several plants to the ground. I never noticed them in my garden until last year. The like to hang out on the underside of the leaves. They really do not seem to bother the other milkweed varieties that I have. This year has been the year of the bugs in my garden.

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  2. That big glaucous cactus makes a very bold presence in your garden, I love it. I have only an opuntia native from southern Italy that I need to keep in a pot and recover in winter, it's plain green and very thorny and it never flowered on me. This year it put a set of thornless leaves, they only have green fat little fingers like yours instead, pretty weird.
    That picture of the bee is very nice and funny too.
    Alberto.

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    1. That is interesting that your cactus put out pads without thorns. I try to stay away from thorny plants because I am accident prone. I do have a spiny, purple tinged Santa Rita prickly pear that is still in a pot because I have not figured out what to do with it yet. I was lucky getting the bee pictures. Usually, I am not fast enough.

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  3. I really like the spineless prickly pear. But, the deer eat it. So, I'll have to stick to the kind that hurts more.

    And, like Shirley...the tunas never have a chance to ripen here. They do look pretty on the ones I see in other areas.

    That is a pretty peach color. I don't think mine turn take color.

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    1. The only plant eating animal wildlife I have to deal with are rabbits and they can't reach the tunas. I am surprised that they hang on as long as they do. Sometimes for two years.

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  4. Very nice! We just put in a cactus and succulent bed but since it is a small portion of the garden we didn't put in any prickly pears that would spread well.

    Loving the flowers though!

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    1. Thanks Misti. I like this cactus because you can train them to grow upright by selectively removing pads. This one grows a new pad in height each year. I am letting it grow out too.

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  5. Fascinating how they change colors as they fade...I almost like that warm peachy-apricot even more than the yellow!

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    1. I like flowers that change colors as they age. Before I traded in my antique roses for native plants, I had a huge mutabilis rose that was always covered in flowers of different colors. It was one of my favorites.

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  6. I love seeing your cactus. Mine never flowers as much as yours, and I agree, I like the peach color best.

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    1. I like that cactus more each year, Marti. It is developing a great personality. Does yours receive full sun?

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  7. Ack! I didn't know you had started blogging again. Missed your posts.

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    1. I am back! You did not miss much. Four or five posts and the good thing is you can always go back and read them if you want to.

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  8. Viva la cacti! Awesome blooms. David/:0)
    P.S. I'm done with the ...viva la... comments now. I promise.

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