r With the wet spring, we have had the desert has come alive with blooming cactus. What a delight to see the splashes of colorful flowers in the earth tones of the desert floor. It is amazing to see a beautiful flower emerge from the spiny environment of the cactus plant.
The flower in the photograph is a Hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus engellmannii) which is native to the United States Southwest. The name comes from the resemblance to a hedgehog, or so the Europeans that originally named it thought. The petals of the flower stay open at night unlike most other cactus flowers that close at night. An individual flower will last three to five days.
Not only are the cactus flowers beautiful, but the cactus plant itself is an amazing creation for the desert environment that it has to survive in. The cactus has a waxy coating that is heaviest on the sunny side of the plant. That coating helps minimize water loss. Also to minimize moisture loss, the pores of the cactus plant open during the cooler hours of the night for the plant to breath out oxygen and take in carbon dioxide; the pores are closed during the day. The plants photosynthesize during the day and wait for nightfall to breathe again. Cactus can also store water, and they swell up during periods of excess moisture. Isn’t all that amazing from the hand of the Creator?