Opuntia phaeacantha is a species of prickly pear cactus known by the common names tulip prickly pear and desert prickly pear found across the southwestern United States, lower Great Plains, and northern Mexico. The plant forms dense but localized thickets. Several varieties of this particular species occur, and it also hybridizes easily with other prickly pears, making identification sometimes tricky.
Opuntia phaeacantha has a characteristic prickly pear appearance, with flattened green pads bearing wool and spines. The spines are brown, reddish-brown, or gray, and often over 3 cm in length.
The flowers are usually bright purple with green centers, and sometimes peach, pinkish or reddish overall. The edible fruits are red or purple with green flesh. The pads and fruit bear tiny glochids which can lodge in the skin and cause irritation.
This plant, like other Opuntia species, is attacked by cactus moth.
Older names for this species, and names for old species which are now considered variants of this species, include plateau prickly pear, brown-spined prickly-pear, Mojave prickly pear, and Kingman prickly pear.
The species is widespread, from California to Texas to Colorado and New Mexico, and into Mexico. There are multiple variations and perhaps these will be described as varieties or full species some day.
- "Opuntia phaeacantha". Opuntia Web.
- Opuntia phaeacantha Photo Gallery 1
- Opuntia phaeacantha Photo Gallery 2
- Jepson Manual Treatment: Opuntia phaeacantha
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