My prickly pear cacti started blooming this week. I have 4 of these plants, and have had them for about 5 years. This is the first time they’ve bloomed. The yellow flowers look very delicate and the petals are very papery and thin. They open during the hot part of the day, then close up during early evening. I have mine planted, along with the yucca plants, on a hot, dry bank above the pool — far out of reach… These plants are absolutely covered in large, very sharp spines. Click the thumbnails for larger versions of the photos.
An interesting note about these plants, according to wikipedia, almost every part of the prickly pear cactus has some type of beneficial use. The gel-like liquid of the cactus can be used as a conditioner. The stems may be useful in treating diabetes, and stomach ache, and may even help reduce the effects of a hangover. The prickly pear also grows widely on the island of Malta where it is enjoyed by the Maltese as a typical summer fruit as well as being used to make the popular liqueur known as Bajtra; and, although I don’t think I would want to try to harvest this, the fruit of prickly pears, called “tuna”, is edible, although it has to be peeled carefully to remove the small spines on the outer skin before consumption. I think I’ll just be happy with viewing these plants from a distance, instead of trying to use any part of them, no matter how beneficial.. :)
Here is a close-up of the inside of one of the flowers fully open. The outer petals are very thin, almost translucent. By early evening, the flowers close. (see first photo above)
(Click for larger photo.)
Although I know that these cacti spread and can become very invasive in some areas, I haven’t had that problem with mine. They are larger of course, but they don’t seem to be spreading very fast.. at least not yet.
Here’s an interesting “version” of this plant, a spineless prickly pear. I didn’t know they existed before I came across this online, but it sure sounds good to me, the plant and the flowers, and no spines… :)