Friday, May 14, 2021

But, Bee Butts!

The "prickly pear" cactus, also called a "beaver tail" cactus but known to us locally as "nopales," ("no-PAWL-ess") are blooming up a storm! And I have seen some lavender blooms on one plant, which I have never seen before. It will require a foray about ten feet into someone's yard to get a good closeup, but I am going to try.  

You know, if you live in the desert Southwest long enough, you become somewhat bilingual. I can understand almost all of the Spanish I hear, and I use many terms daily, but I can express myself very little. Receptive language is much easier than expressive language. I get messed up with the verbs, saying things that are the equivalent of "I seen it," or "I heared the knock." But I can make myself understood, even if I sound goofy.

A lot of people think the fruit of the prickly pear is called an "apple." It is actually called a "tuna." 

Seems a very strange name! The tunas are not fishy, however, and not near as popular as the pads, the "nopalitos," are. The pads are sliced up and used in many "casera," or "homestyle," recipes, but I can't stand them due to the slime they make. Funny, I can eat okra in gumbo with great gusto, and always get a side of fried okra at Cracker Barrel restaurant, but get weak-kneed at slimy nopalitos, even when it's washed away. Oatmeal makes me queasy. And I just discovered that my beloved mulberries have a bit of a slime problem, too. 

Here are a few more photos of prickly pear blooms. I have not take any photos of the yellow-blooming cactus yet. The yellow is the most common and I believe the most hardy of the bunch, but I greatly prefer the hot-pink and red ones. And those lavender ones! In the photo below, a bee is dive-bombing the blossom.

bee butt in nopal flowers

I got rid of a huge patch of prickly pears in my front yard. I might have kept them, had they bloomed pink or red. It was a very old, very large patch, towering up about five feet, and in my opinion dangerous to the pets. I still haven't replaced them with something else, and we are still finding (ouch!) the spines. But better my foot, than a little paw!

beavertail cactus bright pink bloom

Out in the "raw desert," the barrel cactus are blooming, too. In the second photo, you can see another "bee butt." The bees get in the blooms, and go round and round and round, luxuriating (?) in the pollen and nectar. Then they pop up, punch-drunk.

barrel cactus blooming blooms

I hope you are having a lovely Friday! 

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly


  1. Those look very exotic, but of course, absolutely suited to your desert environment. Here the bigger trees are finally coming out with leaves (the "underlayer" smaller trees have been out for about a month now) but it still all looks like spring is still unfolding, so late into May - we had a long cold spell and little rain.

  2. Very pretty and it must of been tricky getting rid of the prickly pears!

  3. I stopped by from Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog. These cactus flowers are so beautiful. I took a look around too. You have some wonderful photos besides the cactus too. Hugs-Erika

  4. I planted some of the prickly pear cactus and it lived a few years through my winters. I've had the cactus fried, but never boiled. I don't like slime, either and won't eat gumbo for that reason.

    You have some beautiful and very colorful photos of the cactus blooms, dear.

  5. Oh how my mother would have loved these. Thank you.

  6. every cactus is wonderful, if I could have only one, by looking at your photos it would be that barrel cactus. we have thorns from bougainvillea that can go through our crocs like a nail. i would like to visit your part of our world

  7. So many beautiful blooms in the desert!

  8. These cactus plants are so unusual and pretty, Holly, especially that bright Pink one! I wonder if the bees get hurt when they land on the prickly cactus. Well, maybe they just stay on the blooms. ; )

    Have a restful weekend.


  9. Oooh, thank you for the cactus and prickly pear flowers. And I always love dive-bombing bees. I took pictures of the bees diving into my Jerusalem Sage flowers this week. Those flowers are quite challenging; the bees have to tunnel in to where you can't even see them.


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