11 June 2015 – Devil’s Tongue – Opuntia humifusa

DSC00712This afternoon, I took a quick jaunt out to Lake Allen to take some pictures of the Devil’s Tongue, a type of prickly pear that is found on the Refuge. Devil’s Tongue’s is also known as Eastern Prickly Pear and its scientific name is Opuntia humifusa (Raf.) Raf. Its natural range is the eastern US from Massachusetts to Florida on the East and New Mexico to Minnesota on the West, with some outlying populations in Montana. It is also found in Ontario, Canada, and is the only cactus that is native to Maryland.

DSC00711The population on the refuge is rather large, covering several acres. It could be one of the largest populations in Maryland. On the refuge, it thrives in the sandy soils of the northeastern part of the North Tract by Lake Allen and by the firing ranges.

Allegheny Mound Ant mound in the upper left hand corner

Allegheny Mound Ant mound in the upper left hand corner

 

 

It is shade intolerant and thrives in full sun, and needs well-drained soil.

DSC00695The fruit of the Devil’s Tongue is edible, and can stay on the plant until the next spring. Here on the refuge, it blooms from late May to mid-June.

DSC00694In a couple of the shots I had to deal with the the pesky Allegheny Mound Ants (Formica exsectoides). Without looking, I plopped down on a swarm of them, and within a minute or so they were crawling all over me. I even had to take one off of my forehead. They are an interesting critter and merit a separate blog entry. You can see a couple of their mounds in the pictures on this page. (More about them in future blog entry)

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