Have you ever been out walking or driving around and you see a neighborhood prickly pear cactus that looks like it went a few rounds with a shark? What was one a proud cactus now has big chunks missing, or even better, has been taken down to a nub?
I was up in Carefree earlier this year and happened upon this prickly pear. It was quite a large one and had apparently served as a nice meal to a pack of javelinas. The photos I took do not even show all of the work they did, but it was impressive. If I had to guess, they were going for the tender little buds that were sprouting everywhere.
Seeing that cactus led me to remember a funny story from years past. One Spring, our Homeowner’s Association went ahead and planted some lovely little flowers to add some color to a road divider planter. They looked so nice and cheery and added a pop of color in the typically more brown and green setting…
The next morning on my way out, I noticed, no more flowers and no more pop of color. They were gone- decimated… Clearly a herd of javelina had come through overnight and had had a wonderful meal of them and went on their way. Needless to say, that was the last flower experiment in that area. I still get a chuckle when I think of that and wonder if the herd came back again looking for more.
Prickly Pear Cactus Trivia: Did you know the prickly pear is not only a favorite for javelinas, but also a food source for many humans? The sweet fruit of the prickly pear has been eaten for centuries and is used to make jellies and sweet treats. Also, when the leaves are in their most tender state, they are harvested and are called nopalitos. You will commonly see nopalitos added to Mexican and Southwestern egg dishes as well as tacos and more.