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.
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.