By: Jacob Hawthorne
Gallery: Schmidt Fine Art Gallery
Cactus flowers, like the prickly pear cactus flowers, rank among the best blooming flower pictures. This is doubly true when the image captures the rare twin bloom, when two flowers bloom from a single spot. It is the epitome of summer love, with two flowers in full bloom at the same place at the same time. Both rare and beautiful, the Dual Cactus Flowers in Summer by Lowe capture the twin bloom of a cactus in the heat of summer. Their flowers reaching towards the hot desert sun, attracting any desert wildlife or insects to help themselves to their nectar, as long as their seeds can hitch a ride to the next oasis.
The bright yellow petals and matching tendrils with the rich orange base acts as a sort of homing beacon for insects and wildlife, attracting them to feast on the nectar that is held inside so that the seeds can spread on the furry insect legs or on the hairs of the chosen desert creature. The vibrant colors of the flowers in the foreground highly contrast the background of brown, dead foliage of nearby plants. It is difficult to picture that something so vivacious and full of life can come from a seemingly barren wasteland like the dry, hot desert. Difficult to picture, but certainly fills us with hope.
Prickly pear cacti are located in all of the Southwest American deserts, but different regions have different species of the prickly pear cacti due to the necessity to evolve to differing elevation and climates. Most prickly pear cacti require dry, rough soil, but some species can be found in wet forests, while others thrive in the rocky terrain of steep mountain foothills.
Prickly pear cactus make up about a dozen species in the North American deserts, but the common characteristic between all species is that they all have flat and fleshy pads that look like large leaves. Actually, these flat, fleshy pads are evolved branches that aid the prickly pear cactus with water storage, photosynthesis and flower production.
The fruits of prickly pear cacti are actually edible, and they are commonly called cactus fruit, cactus fig, Indian fig, nopales or tuna in Spanish. The pads of the prickly pear may also be cooked and eaten as a vegetable under the name nopalito. Both the fruits and the pads of the prickly pear cactus have properties that aid the regulation of blood sugar, an important aspect for diabetics. This is because the fruits contain a lot of slowly absorbed soluble fibers which moderate fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
Prickly pear fruits are most notably used for sweets and candies, as well as in Mexican cuisine. The prickly pear candy, which are commonly sold in the Southwest United States, are made with the nectar of the prickly pear along with the juice and pulp of the fruit. As for the Mexican cuisine, prickly pears are used for a plethora of purposes, and are used in all meals ranging from appetizers to soups, from breads to beverages. The most renowned Mexican dish featuring the prickly pear is the huevos con nopales (eggs with nopal), or tacos de nopales. In 2009, nopales and prickly pear was found to be a cheaper alternative to corn for making tortillas and other corn products.
Although for most species they are safe for human consumption, the peel of the fruit must be removed carefully due to the tiny cactus spines on the outer layer. If the fruit is not properly peeled, the cactus spines may become lodged into the skin and cause pain and discomfort in the throat, lips, and tongue. There are many ways to remove the cactus spines before eating, such as rotating the fruit over a flame or Native Americans like the Tequesta would roll the fruit around on a rocky or sandy surface to remove the spines.
Besides their culinary usage, the prickly pear has also found the attention of the medical community. Beyond the aforementioned blood sugar regulation, some studies have proven that prickly pear pulp is able to lower bad cholesterol while retaining good cholesterol levels, due to the pectin contained in the prickly pear pulp. To note, these studies have not yet been conducted on humans, but because they are edible, the only way to see if it works for you is to try it out!
Whether you are an aspiring photographer or an art collector in search of inspiring works to fill your home or canvas, Schmidt Fine Art Gallery is here to service you. We are a gallery for the artist by the artist. Our mission is to serve as the place for artists to simply sell art, without the overburdening of promotion, marketing and running a start-up business. We are committed to producing high-quality, museum grade products and timeless works of art on canvas or print that can be enjoyed for generations to come.
Schmidt Gallery was founded by Kurt Schmidt with the vision to establish a photo-centric gallery in the heart of Montgomery county, Texas. Although it is all run online at the moment, Schmidt Gallery has dreams of opening up a brick and mortar gallery in The Woodlands just north of Houston. Schmidt Fine Art Gallery was founded in March 2020 as a startup funded by All ARK LLC.