DENVER – With the arrival of spring and warmer weather comes a plethora of plant activity, including blooming season for cacti.
Colorado is home to various species of cactus, including the Claret Cup, which is the state cactus of Colorado.
Depending on the species of cactus and the location, the plants may start to bloom in May or June, offering some colorful eye candy for those who venture into the great outdoors.
Horticulturists at the Denver Botanic Gardens say different cacti can be found in different areas of the state, many of them within a day’s drive of Denver. Here are some areas to check out:
In the foothills, you can generally find three types of cactus: Mountain ball (Pediocactus simpsonii), which features dainty pink flowers with a mild rose scent; Echinocereus viridiflorus, which has greenish-yellow flowers coming out of a compact, dark green ball with various spine colors and lengths; and prickly pears.
Where to go: Rocky Mountain National Park
The Western Slope is home to the Claret Cup cactus (Echinocereus mojavensis and triglochidiatus), which has bright red blooms and can often be found clinging to high canyon walls. You’ll also find various types of prickly pears, which tend to bloom around the same time.
Where to go: Colorado National Monument
In the southeastern part of the state, you’ll find chollas (Cylindropuntia imbricate), which sport magenta to purple flowers from their tall canes. Horticulturists say there are many other “jewels” tucked into the grasslands of the region for those willing to do a little exploring.
Where to go: Picket Wire Canyon at Comanche National Grassland
Can’t make it out of Denver? The Denver Botanic Gardens also has a wide variety of cacti on its grounds.
For more information, log on to botanicgardens.org.