Spring Cactus Bloom in Arizona – The Claret Cup

We have had a wetter than usual winter and early spring and thus we are having a beautiful wildflower bloom. Our landscape cactus are showing their appreciation as well with a living bouquet for our enjoyment.

One of our courtyard features is a round planter that has hosted a Claret Cup cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus) for more than ten years. At one time it had plenty of room, but as you can see below, it will need to be divided and replanted within a year or so.

Claret Cup Cactus

In years past, it wouldn’t have this many blooms open at once, but its stinginess vanished this year and we are being treated to a full orchestration of its floral beauty.

Upon closer inspection you can see the juggernaut of thorns it sports that will present quite a challenge when it comes time to move or transplant it. We have a long pair of tweezers or tongs that we use to remove spent blooms or any debris that gets caught amid the needles.

Claret Cup Cactus

In the photo below, the pollen can be seen on top of the stamens. While this adds color to the picture and pollen to the air, it also seems to attract woodpeckers. For some reason they like to eat the center of the flowers and my assumption is that it is because of the pollen. After inspecting where they have been, the pollen sacks are gone — who knew?

Claret Cup Cactus

You can read more about Claret Cup cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus) by clicking HERE.


JBRish.com originally published this post
All photographs are Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved

 
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Pine Tree Trail — OMDP NM, Las Cruces, NM

Pine Tree Trail has been (rightfully) purported to be one of the premier hikes in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument (OMDP) in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Loop hikes are of a special appeal; and a trail that provides an opportunity to experience new terrain with each step coupled with significant canopy is especially attractive. The trailhead starts at the Aguirre Springs Campground and the hike is fairly well marked.

 

Moon setting over the needles of the Organ Mountains

Pine Tree Trail Sign

Appropriate caveats are provided.

Warning Sign

The trail gained 1000 feet in elevation via gradual switchbacks around the edge of a depression created by Anvil and Sotol Creeks.

The needles as seen from the trail

The trail upward traversed lush vegetation, occasional rocky (dry) riverbeds, with some melt-off (in early May) noted seeping through some rocks. Varied wild flowers (Apache Plume and Blanket Flower (Gaillardia)) and ferns are evident on the trail.

River bed with some water

Beautiful Apache Plume

Indian Blanket Gallardia

A rock squirrel provided the requisite wildlife sighting!

Squirrel posing for the picture

Boulders along the path required some occasional negotiation.

Boulders along the path

The hollowed base of a dead tree conjured imagines of forest trolls!!
Spooky hollowed tree

The treeless expanse of Sugarloaf to the south was occasionally visible.
Sugarloaf Mountain

To the east, White Sands Missile Range came into intermittent view.
White Sands Missile Range

A primitive camp located at the top of the trail offered comfortable seating (note horizontal log!). Signage provided the reassurance that the hike was halfway complete!

Primitive camp; no amenities

Sign Marks Camp Location

White Sands National Monument is clearly seen on the descent, but the trail still remains fairly well-forested.

White Sands National Monument just below horizon

Completing the second half of the hike in a fraction of the time of the ascent, Pine Tree Trail definitely warranted favored hike status in the OMDP!!

Another picture of the trail