Thursday, October 29, 2015

Seeing Red in Sabino: Cactus fruit edition

Photos and Text by Fred "red's in the name" Heath.

Night-blooming Cereus fruits
Photo by Fred Heath 9/21/2015

Fred writes:

Recently with the good rains we have had all year, my walks in Sabino have been become quite fruitful. The bright red colors of some of these fruits really catch the eye.
In the median about a mile up the main tram road there has been a Night-blooming Cereus (Peniocereus greggii) which has been looking unhealthy for a few years now and I was sure it would finally succumb to old age. Image my surprise, this fall, when I found the plant looking great with three fruits. It shouldn't be such a surprise as the Night-blooming Cereus as very large roots which usually have a much greater volume than the part above ground.

Christmas Cholla fruits
Photo by Fred Heath 10/6/2015

Aside from the Night-blooming Cereus, we have a couple of other cactus which can have red fruits at this time of year. The Christmas Cholla (Cylindropuntia leptocaulis) is probably so named because the cactus with its Christmas colored red fruit and green stems usually is around during the holidays. Because it has such skinny stems, it is sometimes mistaken for Pencil Cholla (Cylindropuntia arbuscula) but that cholla, which not common in Sabino, usually has thicker stems and much longer spines.

Fishhook Pincushion fruits
Photo by Fred Heath 10/6/2015

Another cactus that might have red fruit around this time of year is the Fishhook Pincushion (Mammillaria grahamii) which has fruit which looks like little chili peppers. They taste a little like lemon [Anne says: I think they taste more like strawberries.] and are a favorite with our ground squirrels. [Anne says: I've seen roadrunners pluck them out and eat them, too.] This is probably the most abundant cactus in Sabino, but their small size and habit of hiding under other plants makes them inconspicuous except when their pink flowers or red fruit makes them stand out. They can bloom and produce fruit several times a year depending on warm temperatures and good rains.

Anne Green says: Thanks, fRED!

1 comment:

  1. Those night-blooming cereus ones are great! Never seen those before.