Two Cacti, Not Blooming

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beavertail cactus
Opuntia basilaris
Cactaceae

 

cotton-top cactus
Echinocactus polycephalus
Cactaceae

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While exploring the area around the globemallow I came across two different types of cactus plants.  One was well in bud, so I made it a point to go back two days later, right before leaving for the flight home. No luck. Still in bud.

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Beavertail looks a lot like the familiar prickly pear cactus (it’s in the same genus), but it lacks spines. There are four varieties; I have no idea which one this is. Here’s a picture of it in flower. [sob]

Cotton-top cactus is distinctive because of its form (polycephalus means “many heads”). You can see from this photo how it got its common name:

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By the way, if you’re scrambling up a scree where cotton-top are growing, choose to pass the plants on the downslope. I figured this out just a few steps shy of one of the beasts, where sure enough I lost my footing and went for a bit of a slide. It could have been comic in a Road-Runner sort of way. More likely it would have been really painful.

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One thought on “Two Cacti, Not Blooming

  1. Pingback: Bonus Plant | Elizabeth's Wildflower Blog

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