My Spiny Valentine

Prickly pear cactus pads sometimes form hearts. I wonder what the plant is trying to tell us: “Be mine but don’t touch me?”


Cactus hearts

Purple heart

This last is a mammillaria. (You can call her Ma’am.) Here’s a  bit of trivia: I used to think that mammillaria got their name because they’re rounded like mammillary glands.


But no, it’s because they’re covered with bumps, and at the tip of each is an aureole from which spines emerge. So now you know. ;+)




About Debra Lee Baldwin

Debra Lee Baldwin gardens on "an inhospitable half acre" in Escondido, CA, near San Diego. She is an award-winning photojournalist and artist with hundreds of articles and columns to her credit. Debra's books are Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens and Succulents Simplified.

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4 Responses to My Spiny Valentine

  1. commonweeder February 6, 2014 at 8:18 am #

    I always say a walk down the garden path takes us into many areas of study beyond botany. This doesn’t look like a loving plant, but the flowers are pretty – and it is amazingly hardy.
    commonweeder recently posted…View From the Bedroom Window – January 2014My Profile

  2. Mary Yee February 6, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    Thanks for these fabulous photos! I didn’t realize prickly pear pads came in so many colors (and I suppose even those change with the seasons).

  3. Catherine February 6, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

    Ah, I think it means that true love is not just ‘warts and all’, but spines and prickles too. When people give roses, they remove all the thorns, pretending that love is just about beauty. I’d rather have these ‘true love’ spiky hearts any day.
    Catherine recently posted…Wormwood for fever not flavourMy Profile

  4. Candy Suter February 15, 2014 at 12:44 am #

    I love trivia about succulents! Great post and super photos!
    Candy Suter recently posted…Month Two of 2014My Profile