|Strawberry Hedgehog (Echinocereus engelmannii)|
The hedgehogs are among the earliest-blooming cactus in our area. But there's also the lovely Claret Cup which is often the very first to show its stunning finery.
|Claret Cup Cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus)|
|Long-Spined Prickly Pear (Opuntia macrocentra)|
|Crested Saguaro in Bloom (Carnegiea gigantea)|
Cholla, the jointed cactus, of which we have a number of species, is also just beginning to show flowers. A little later, they will be putting on a breathtaking performance in a whole palette of colors. So far this spring, I've only seen two plants with open flowers.
Many species of cactus which grow in the Mexican portion of the Sonoran Desert are represented at the Desert Museum. Here are two I saw in bloom last Friday.
|Cardón (Pachycereus pringlei)|
And one from my yard whose flowers are not yet open in the early morning when I took this photo.
This small sampling indicates the amazing variety and beauty of the cactus family. I leave you with the outrageous blooms of the Torch Cactus (Trichocereus) which is cultivated, but not native, in our area. Mine are just now forming buds, but at the Desert Museum last week we were treated to this stunning display.
Cactus are native only to the Americas, but some bear a striking resemblance to certain euphorbias from Africa, the result of a process known as convergent evolution, and thus defined: In evolutionary biology, convergent evolution is the process whereby organisms not closely related (not monophyletic), independently evolve similar traits as a result of having to adapt to similar environments or ecological niches.
Here's wishing you beautiful blooms this Spring!