Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Odd Couple: Prickly Pear and Bougainvillea Growing Together

Bright pink bougainvillea and prickly pear cactus in Kula.
This is one of those quirky juxtapositions that I love about Maui.  All sorts of plants grow, often side by side, that seem like an odd combination. I associate bougainvillea with tropical or subtropical climates... and with lush green landscapes... and the prickly pear cactus with the dry, sandy desert. But Kula is dry enough to be like a desert, warm enough for both plants to grow, and quite cool at night. So, Arizona meet Hawaii.

There are actually an amazing number of prickly pears that grow on Maui, both in Kula and in the dry south shore along Makena.  By the way, bougainvillea also is plentiful in Makena and Wailea, but I've never seen it growing next to a cactus!  It's just not a favored plant combination for hotel landscapers.

More bougainvillea, white and red, next to more cactus.

These pictures were taken along Kula Highway, the makai side, or the side towards the ocean, going uphill, a mile or two before Kula Hardware.

I made the mistake once of trying to examine a prickly pear fruit on the ground in Kula. No gloves. It was dumb and my hand tingled uncomfortably with teeny prickles.  If you are tempted to gather prickly pear fruit, bring a good pair of gloves. I've heard that one can roll the fruit on the ground to remove the prickles or roll them around in a bucket of sand.

One thing both plants have in common is thorns. So maybe they are not such an odd couple after all!


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