In April, things start to dry out quite a bit, and heat up, so we stop getting the variety of flowers that we get in the early spring. Mostly it’s time for the cacti to show off.
This one is a Pinkflower Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus fasciculatus):
Here’s a nice close up:
The real stars though, are the prickly pears:
I’m going to call these Engelmann’s Pricklypear (Opuntia engelmannii). There are numerous varieties of prickly pear, and they interbreed pretty freely, so we mere humans can’t really keep up with species names. Identifying markers do not include flower color; mine are mostly yellow and sometimes orange, occasionally on the same plant.
It’s also the case that the identifying markers are a matter of judgement: the “Dinner-plate” variety has really large pads (also called nopales, say “no-PAH-less”), but size can also be just due to the age of the plant. The “Santa Rita” variety tends to have a pinkish tinge to the nopales, but then again, in late winter all of the prickly pears have pinkish pads, due to the death of the cochineal bugs which bleed red dye all over the cactus.
[Fun Fact: Crushed cochineal bugs are a traditional source of non-toxic red dye. You’ve almost certainly eaten some yourself!]
I consider prickly pears a “weed”. By that I don’t mean that I actively go out with the intent of destroying them (unless they try to sneak into my garden, which they haven’t yet) — just that they grow wild everywhere. When I find one encroaching on one of the paths, I have no qualms about clipping off the offending nopal and throwing it as far as I can into the scrub, because I’m pretty sure that it will throw down roots and grow wherever it lands, hehe. Here are some now:
They seem to go on forever.
Enough of that, here’s a rather unimpressive bush-let:
I’m pretty sure this is Catclaw Acacia (formerly Acacia greggii, now Senegalia greggii). It’s supposed to be a tree, but none of mine even approach that condition. No matter, we all do what we can. Here are the flowers:
So this little bush looks quite healthy, just a bit under-sized.
And lastly, another bush that flowered in April, and is making a bit of a show again at the end of July. I think this is a Turpentine Bush (Ericameria laricifolia (A. Gray) Shinners).
It’s supposed to smell like turpentine when you crush the leaves, but if so, it’s very faint. Here are the flowers:
It’s only supposed to flower in the fall, but like so many other plants here, this one flowers any time it feels it’s had enough water to make flowering worthwhile. The color is brilliant, and I’m happy any time it feels like flowering.