Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia humifusa ‘Orange Form’)

Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus
Opuntia humifusa ‘Orange Form’
(op-UN-shee-uh) (hew-mih-FEW-suh)
Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ay)

Synonyms: Devil's Tongue, Low Prickly Pear, Opuntia mesacantha
Opuntia italica, Opuntia rafinesquei, Opuntia fuscoatra, Opuntia allairei, Opuntia cumulicola, Opuntia impedata

I really wanted to take a picture of this plant blooming the last couple of years and never got around to it. This year on July 3rd I did it. I almost missed it as these are from the last couple of blooms. It is a fun plant to grow and seems quite hardy. It is not invasive in my garden it as made a nice little clump, sometimes dying out in the middle and crossing the little dry riverbed they are planted in but always keeping within reason. The areas that died out filled in again. This Cactus is native to the Eastern United States and grows well in Connecticut. In the winter it turns a little brown and shriveled but bounces back nicely in the spring. It is easily rooted with the pads. There are usually a couple of large spines on each pad but be careful of the Glochids or hair-like spines. They can cause irritation hours later. A fun, novelty type plant with beautiful flowers. This is the orange form.

This patch of Cactus is growing next to a Weeping Blue Spruce. I am not sure how the two ended up together but I think I planted the Cactus first in 1988 and when we did a big renovation on the gardens I moved the Spruce there in 1997 with the idea that I would transplant it back into the new gardens but I must have forgot. It reminds of the time I was visiting some wineries in Sonoma Valley and at one place I had a little too much to drink so I asked if we could take a walk out in the vineyard which had a lot of ornamental plants scattered through it. They said sure and after awhile I came upon a row of Palm trees that had Colorado Blue Spruce alternately planted in between them. I think that was one of the weirdest combinations I had ever seen. I would love to live in a climate like that. Although I would probably be run out of town because of my prodigious water use.

This is the flower of a Gold Sword Yucca (Y. flaccida 'Golden Sword') that is next to the cactus and Spruce. It had a couple of nice what I use to call candelabras but have since found out that they are actually a raceme inflorescence. Since the petals and sepals (three of each) are similar they are called tepals.


mrsnesbitt said...

Love your photographs.

Digital Flower Pictures said...

Thanks Dx

Ki said...

Cactus flowers are so incredibly beautiful. I remember driving along the desert in NM and seeing a spot of red to the side. We got out of the car to investigate and came upon a small catus covered with brilliant red flowers with yellow centers. Just this one lone cactus was blooming.

Digital Flower Pictures said...

Ki, Sometimes the flowers are extra special when they are by themselves. You going try to try the Cactus in your garden? They are really hardy.

Ki said...

Opuntias can grow to be very unwieldy and I don't want to battle the thorns so I'll pass on the cactus. I am surprised how hardy they are! Indeed, seeing the lone cactus in bloom made it a very special event. If everything was in bloom it would have been spectacular but probably a less memorable event.

Digital Flower Pictures said...

I don't blame you for not wanting the Cactus although it isn't really a bother and the flowers are beautiful.

I think some Cactus are a little more hardy then are given credit for because some grow at elevation in the desert and it can get quite cold out there at night.