Monday, January 16, 2006

Prickly Pear Cactus

click photo to enlarge

Soon I'll be heading home, but I'm still in San Diego. Above is a photo I took today of a prickly pear cactus. It's certainly not what grows in my backyard near Boston, MA USA. I found this picture interesting because it shows four different things. Near the top you can see that some of its flowers are starting to bloom and on the right you can see some fruit. Near the bottom left there's an interesting feature, graffiti. The thing I found the most interesting, though, are the white fuzzy things you see on the lower right on the cactus. They are cochineal insects. Inside the white waxy substance that the insect produces is the insect. If you pick it off and squeeze it, it produces a bright red liquid which looks a lot like blood. The cochineal insect itself produces this bright red. These insects have been used as a red dye for centuries. If you eat foods dyed red with natural red dye or carmine, guess what you may actually be eating. Hint, look up 'cochineal' on google and wikipedia.

Below is a picture I found interesting. I guess because I rarely see cactus outside of small potted plants. I just found cactus graffiti surpising, probably because I never thought about it until I saw it.

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