There are several of these yellow prickly pear cactus flowers in bloom along the road near our house. This one was about three inches across which is a little larger than most we see. The Sonora and her flowers is very beautiful from March through November. Like most cactus plants, the prickly pear cactus has long, sharp spines that protrude from the pads. In addition, harder-to-see tiny spines, called glochids, can be found at the base of the more predominant spines. Disguised in fuzzy-looking patches, the glochids appear harmless. However, they come off the pad easily and once they’ve gotten into a person’s skin, they can be difficult to remove and cause irritation for days.
The pads and fruit of the prickly pear cactus are edible. The fruit can be peeled and eaten raw. However, many experts suggest that the fruit is best when it is made into candy, jelly, juice, or wine. It is also available dried or in extract form.
Flowers are large and showy in many genera, with dozens of petals and stamens rather than just the 5 or 10 of each. In a cactus flower, the hollow tube has leaves arranged in ordinary phyllotactic spirals on the outer surface almost until the rim of the tube is reached, then there are sepals and petals at the uppermost portions of the outside of the tube as well as at the rim, then down the inside of the tube are the numerous stamens with the first-formed ones at the top near the rim and the last-