During these bleak days toward the end—or so we fervently hope—of the dry season, when the landscape looks like it’s never to going green up again, cacti and succulents step up to brighten our sagging spirits with their unexpected and lavish blooms. And you’d best be ready with your oohs and aahs, and camera, to capture a magical moment that may last for no more than a couple of hours.
|Delicate flower from a rough-looking mom.|
Yesterday when I sat on the terrace with my cup of coffee, to do my pretend meditation—”pretend” because much of what I do is in fact fiddle with my phone and noodle things in my head—I turned to my left and on the table found this the stunning white flower, at the end of a six-inch stem, from of a cactus that might belong to a genus called “mammilaria.”
My limited knowledge of botany and Latin make “might” and “maybe” the operative words in my attempts at plant identification. Mammillaria, which is Latin for “nipple” or “teat,” are round and generally look like a bunch of little barrel cacti clustered on top of one another.
They are best admired from a distance, though, because like most succulents and cacti, then are covered with delicate and sharp spines that sink into your skin and break off, to remind you of your impudence for a couple of hours
The blooms of succulents often don’t seem to fit the appearance of the mother plant. The tiny purple blooms of some mammillaria pop up randomly in the crevices and dimples of the main plant, to create a harmonious overall appearance. The one yesterday, at the end of a solitary stem coming from the side of the plant, looked incongruous.
Not too far from this guy, I have another customer that looks quite like a fat phallus, with a couple of round protrusions at the base to complete the effect. A small label I put on it calls it mammillaria supertexta, but don’t take my word of it. A couple of weeks ago, it decided to put out a series of tiny purple flowers, arranged tiara-like around the tip, or head, of the main phallus.
Maybe I have a dirty mind, but it seemed as if this delicate, so feminine, tiara of flowers didn’t quite go with the rest of the more masculine package.
In another case, nature’s joke went up my nose. Over by the main gate, we have a stapelia grandiflora, which grows finger-like branches and then, boom!, puts out, at no particular time of the season, exquisite five-petaled blooms, either white, or light cream with small purple dots. Get close to it and you’ll never forget its common name— “stink flower.”
The flower of the mammillaria that bloomed yesterday, probably before sunrise, started to swoon by ten, and folded up before noon. And that was all folks.