Cacti are known for their unique and diverse range of flowers, but when it comes to blue flowers, there seems to be some debate. In this article, we will delve into the question of whether cacti can have blue flowers.
There are no known cacti with true blue flowers. Cacti flowers come in a wide range of colors, including red, pink, yellow, and white, blue is not a color that occurs naturally. This is because the cactus family, along with many other succulents lacks the ability to produce proper blue pigments .
While some cacti may have blue stems or flowers that appear blue ( which is in fact more of purple), true blue pigments in petals are not produced by cacti. Other cacti may have buds that appear blue but ultimately bloom in different colors, such as creamy pinkish hues
Why there are no blue-flowered cacti
Color in plants is due to 2 main families of compounds: betalains and anthocyanins. There are other sources of color, such as chlorophyll, but of much more limited possibility. Betalains and anthocyanins are exclusive, meaning that if a plant synthesizes anthocyanins, it cannot synthesize betalains and vice versa.
Most plant families use anthocyanins, except Caryophyllales, this superfamily which includes beets, but also mesembs and cacti.
The dyes of cacti are betalains, divided into 2 groups: betaxanthins (yellow in color) and betacyanins (red in color). There is no blue-colored betalain (their chemical structure does not allow such colors to be reproduced), so we will never have cacti with blue flowers, any more than Lithops.
Blue-like flower colors and Blue Cactus varieties
While no cactus produces blue flowers, there are some cacti whose flowers have a shade close to blue and those that have blue stems or a bluish hue to their overall appearance.
- Cipocereus minensis: While not in flower, this cactus has incredibly vibrant blue sepals and floral cup. The flower itself is cream-colored.
- Puya, a marginal succulent bromeliad genus, showcases metallic blue flowers, making it an exception within the succulent world .
- Wittia amazonica (formerly known as Discocactus): This cactus produces unique and interesting flowers produces flowers that are actually purple but may give off a blue-like appearance in certain lighting conditions.
- Cipocereus minensis: While not in flower, this cactus has incredibly vibrant sepals and floral cup. The flower itself is cream-colored.
- Pilosocereus pachycladus: This columnar cactus has turquoise/ sky blue or light blue-green stems but the flowers actually turn out to be creamy pinkish in color.
- The Brazilian Blue Cactus (Pilosocereus azureus): This is a stunning hybrid with a distinct blue-green stem covered in a white spine. This cactus produces beautiful white funnel-shaped flowers that are pollinated by bats and sphinx moths.
In conclusion, while true blue flowers are not commonly found in cacti, we can find certain plants that have a shade close to blue (Wittia amazonica for example), but the color (which is, in fact, more of a purple) is not due to a dye but rather to the structure of the surface cells. flowers.