Cactus on the Land

Horse-crippler cactus grows in a low flat mound, with large stout spines--just right for a horse to step on and get hurt. But once a year, for one or two days at most, it puts on this show--dazzling, slightly shiny, ruffled flowers. Not every plant has the same pink, or the same proportions of light and dark pink, but they're all stunning, coming out of the low, dull-looking plant.

prickly pear
Prickly pear cactus is a nurse plant for various annual forbs that shelter in its protection from grazing and wind. It also funnels moisture to its own base, and thus provides a wetter environment for its nurselings. Here it's sheltering bluecurls (Phacelia congesta) and beggars' ticks (the lacy white flowers); in the same area are spiderwort and Texas sage.

plains nipple cactus
Plains nipple cactus is another one that doesn't look impressive but has a lovely flower. It looks like a little ball covered with white lace, to start with--the "lace" is formed of spines, a "star" of them at the end of each "nipple" (about the size of a thumb joint) that forms the cactus. Its flowers grow out the top, and remind me of sea anemones.
Each petal is elegantly striped with subtle color--most are beige and taupe, but some show various shades of pink.

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MoonScape80 Acres