I have an enormous prickly pear cactus that lives in a corner of my office, where it’s mostly out of the way and less likely to injure me. I’ve blogged about this cactus previously, in “I’ve got blisters on my cactus!” and “Cactus Shoot”. I’ve had this cactus, or its parent plants, for decades.
It’s easy to start a new plant by sticking one of the fleshy, green pads into soil, and I can’t remember how many times I’ve done that. If the cactus gets too tall, starts flopping over, or the oldest stems dry up and look ugly, I decide it’s time to start over and discard the old plant. I seal the old cactus parts inside a box so it’s unlikely that someone will be injured by them.
Over the years, the cactus (or one of its predecessors) has bloomed four or five times that I can remember. It usually waits until I’m out of town, so when I return all I see are spent flowers. This time, I actually was able to see the flowers.
The cactus produced three yellow flowers. The flowers are about six cm (a little over two inches) across. They lasted only a couple of days each, and opened consecutively. In the photo, the second flower is open and the spent bloom from the first flower is at the upper left.
You can read more about prickly pear cactus species at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, DesertUSA, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (search for the genus name, “Opuntia”), or the University of Florida.