After checking on the irises last Friday, I went to hike Billy Goat A. I had one goal: get photos of eastern prickly pear cactus flowers. It wasn’t too long before I came across this underwhelming specimen. I had a look ’round and found more plants, but no more flowers. Figuring they needed another week, I hoisted the pack and continued along the trail.
And then suddenly I spotted this huge stand, blooming in the shade of a scrub pine (Pinus virginiana).
You can read more about Opuntia humifusa in this post from last August, (in which I wrote “it’s something to look forward to next summer” -success!). And read more about cacti in general in this post from March.
Many times I photograph a plant in order to show specific details, or give an accurate view of the plant for reference, so I try to get even exposure across the subject.
On this day, the flowers were glowing in the mid-morning sun, and the shadows cast by the plants heightened the effect.
All I wanted to capture was that beautiful yellow in the layers of translucent petals.
It was a busy day, so once finished I packed up the camera and headed back to the car. And then I spotted something completely new. Couldn’t get good photos (pressured for time, wind blowing, etc.), but I got enough to ID the plants later. Ends up they’re threatened and listed S1/highly state rare in Maryland. So guess what I’m doing this morning? More on that plant soon.
Love it Elizabeth!
These appear to be similar to the spineless Opuntia we are seeing in the Lower Patuxent area. We have not made a final determination or these yet, it appears either a spineless O. mesacantha ssp. mesacantha or O. humifusa s.s. with 3 or 4 areoles per diagonal row.
It would be a good idea to see if any of the plants in this population have spines or five areoles per diagonal row.
Hi, Bill – it’s on my to-do list. I won’t have time to get out there until after Labor Day, though. Do you know if anyone’s devised a straightforward key to the new Opuntia species?