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Engelmann Prickly Pear

Opuntia englemannii

Engelmann Prickly-pear, Opuntia engelmannii, photo © by Michael Plagens

Observed along First Water Trail, Superstition Mountains, Arizona, 9 May 2009. Notice that nearby a Green Lynx is ready to pounce on any bee that might be drawn to the nectar and pollen.

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Engelmann Prickly Pear well into extended drought © by Michael Plagens

This Prickly Pear, Opuntia sp., was photographed in the Goldfield Mts. near Apache Junction, Arizona on Aug. 3rd, 2002. When rain is too scarce the plants will shrivel and die back.

FLOWERS: Large, clear yellow flowers. The buds prior to opening will appear red-tinged. Numerous stamens with abundant pollen.

JOINTS: The flattened stem joints are slightly oblong in outline and often form an upright, shrubby plant.

SPINES: The spines are long and the major central spines tend to be nearly white. Minute spines called glochids are abundant.

SUCCULENT: Medium-height prickly pear with pads sometimes reaching more than 1½ meter above ground level.

RANGE: Found mostly in the upland Sonoran Desert. Becomes more abundant in response to heavy grazing by cattle.

FRUIT: At maturity the fruit is a plump, red pear beset with many minute spines and numerous hard seeds inside.

Cactaceae - Cactus Family

Coreidae Narnia photo © by Mike Plagens

This pair of Narnia bugs is mating upon a mature fruit of Opuntia engelmannii at Mesquite Wash, Mazatzal Mountains, Arizona. 24 Aug. 2008. Their feeding may damage the developing seeds and reduce germination percentage.

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2009