As I was turning off the road from White Lake at Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge, onto the main road these bright pink flowers caught my eye in the stands of dead grass. I stopped the car and immediately carefully hiked it to, without the protection of snake boots I might add because of my excitement. Snakes are extremely active this year already.
What I spotted was this lace cactus, Echinocereus reichenbachii in full bloom. The cactus blooms normally appear in May. These tiny cacti are all over the Muleshoe Refuge, as well as the Buffalo Lake and Grulla Refuges.
They grow to about eight inches and are cold tolerant. The bright pink flowers themselves have at least 30 to 50 petals. The dark green color in the middle of the flower is the pistil which varies in number with each flower.
I say the flowers are rare because I’ve seen these small cacti more times with the flowers already bloomed. I’ve rarely encountered these cacti with full blooms like this. Seeing this one lone cactus with its big pink blooms made my day.
Photograph – © Christena Stephens Photography