Thursday, March 4, 2010

Prickly Pear Cactus

The prickly pear cactus is not as common in the desert areas I have frequented as the beavertail, cholla, hedgehog or other cacti. As I have done a little research on them, I've not found a good source that identifies and describes the various kinds of prickly pear. The brown spined prickly pear, or Mojave prickly pear appears to be the most common in Southern California, including Joshua Tree National Park.  Engelmman's prickly pear appears to be the most common in Arizona, but I can't determine the difference between the brown spined and Engelmann's. I have found pictures of the pancake prickly pear, but again, I can't find a good description of what makes it different. I think I may have representative pictures of each below, but I'm not sure. I believe that prickly pear are found at higher elevations than beavertail, part of the reason that I have seen fewer of them.

Below is a picture of a prickly pear cactus found in Hidden Valley in Joshua Tree National Park. The brown fuzz is kind of weird and the only thing I've found on it says that it hides glochids, fine, tiny, barbed spines, found above the regular spines. I believe this may be a pancake prickly pear.
The next few prickly pear were found near Havasupai in northern Arizona.
I believe these may be Engelmann's prickly pear.
A closer view of the flower.
The next prickly pear were also found on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, but have red flowers. The spines also appear to be shorter and in twos and threes instead of ones and twos.
A closer view of the flower.
The following prickly pear was found near the Whitewater River in San Bernardino County.
Finally, these were found near Mission Creek in the San Bernardino Mountain foothills, at a higher elevation than the Whitewater River.

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