Bloom Day: Pima Pineapple Cactus

July 16, 2010

Five days after the first significant summer rain…you can count on that to be Bloom Day for Coryphantha robustispina, the Pima Pineapple Cactus.   For me, this event captures the bright, ephemeral essence of summer, with dozens of sunlike flowers peering out of the spines.  The yellow flowers are slightly fluorescent and have a nearly metallic luster that creates a soft glow over the land, especially since Bloom Day is usually humid and partly cloudy, with restless monsoon clouds and the occasional rumble of thunder over the mountains.  Yesterday was the biggest bloom, but a few plants have small flowerbuds that will probably open after the next rain.

Pima Pineapple Cactus

Ten years ago this month, we moved to Arizona and within a few days we discovered some of these endangered cacti near our house.  Scattered over an acre of flat, gravelly desert, it’s the densest known population.  Over the next few years, we found several more sites, some of which have since been destroyed for new housing developments or as the land is bladed and abandoned.  But the original acre that we named “Pineapple Cactus Land” – split between private and state ownership, cycling through various intermittent and impermanent forms of protection, disputed by researchers, ignored by politicians, degraded by ranching, eyed greedily by developers – remains a hidden garden for these beautiful plants.  We rejoice that it has survived to bloom for another year.

Pima Pineapple Cactus Flower

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2 Responses to “Bloom Day: Pima Pineapple Cactus”

  1. mike said

    Pls tell me how long the Pima pineapple cactus blooms last on the cactus. I went looking for some today and I think I found some but there were no blooms @ 8/26/2010. thx, mike

  2. ironwing said

    Plants bloom three to five days after the first significant summer rain. Each flower lasts only for one day (they are fully open only for about four hours in the middle of the day) and all the plants in a given area bloom at the same time. Occasionally a few plants will have flowerbuds at different stages of development and they will bloom over a period of 2-5 days. In very wet years, some plants will bloom in the spring (late April-May) as well as in summer, but I’ve only seen that twice in ten years.

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