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Blooming Prickly Pear

_MG_2559A nearby lake is surrounded by patches of prickly pear. This time of year the plants begin to grow and bloom.  These up close images highlight the beauty of these interesting plants. And there's a lot more going on with prickly pear than thorns and pretty buds.

_MG_2558Prickly pair are only native to the Western Hemisphere although they thrive in other places where they have been successfully introduced such as Malta, Egypt, Australia, and many places in Southeast Asia.  Prickly pears are edible.  They can be used to purify water. And perhaps best of all, they can be fermented to make an alcoholic brew known as colonche, which has been made in Mexico for thousands of years.  In fact, the genus of this plant is Opuntina which is taken from the Greek city Opus, said to have had an edible plant.

Other prickly pear facts:

  • When introduced to Australia in the 18th Century, the plant became a “Green Hell” spreading to over a million acres a year and crushing the homes of settlers under clumps of cactus over 20-feet high.  The Aussies formed a Prickly Pear Board to deal with the issues.
  • The national seal of Mexico has an eagle sitting on a prickly pear.
  • In Cuba, prickly pear is used as a barrier to keep locals from seeking refuge on the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo.

_MG_2567 _MG_2561

Travel safe.  Have fun.

About Kongo (696 Articles)
Kongo is a traveling monkey owned by a nice man who has a soft spot for simians. Follow Kongo at and on Twitter @kongomonkey

13 Comments on Blooming Prickly Pear

  1. Marvelous macro!


  2. These images are lovely and brings back wonderful memories of being in Anza-Borrego in March in a year when the whole desert was in bloom…magical!


  3. Beautiful photos and very informative post 🙂


  4. The Australian story shows why species should not be introduced into other locations. I’ll bet they spent a fortune trying to get rid of it! Interesting piece!


    • Hi, Margie. Actually they curbed the problem by introducing a moth that ate the prickly pear pods and stopped their propagation. In this case, two wrongs made a right. Thanks for visiting.


  5. My favorite the last shot with the perfect composition and detail accentuated by the dark background. Ouch I can feel the needles!


  6. Kongo, at first glance the prickles behind the main plant are like little fairies or pixies flying by. Clearly I spend too much time reading Tinkerbell stories! Great photo. Sonia


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