Assateague: Prickly Pear in Bloom

Image location: Bayside, Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland 

Image location: Bayside, Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland 

The Eastern Prickly Pear cactus (Optunia humifusa) is a rarity in these parts - a native cactus! They are now in full bloom, and it's easy to spot their bright yellow flowers among its low-growing mat of flat, spiny pads. These fleshy pads are edible too - this cactus has been a staple in Mexican and Central American diets for thousands of years.