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Prickly Pear

Opuntia engelmannii

Other common name(s):

Cactus Apple

Family:

Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Plant Ecoregion Distribution Map

Chihuahuan Deserts, Cross Timbers, East Central Texas Plains, Edwards Plateau, Southern Texas Plains, Southwestern Tablelands, Texas Blackland Prairies
Chihuahuan Basins and Playas, Chihuahuan Desert Grasslands, Chihuahuan Montane Woodlands, Low Mountains and Bajadas, Stockton Plateau
Carbonate Cross Timbers, Western Cross Timbers
Southern Post Oak Savanna
Balcones Canyonlands, Edwards Plateau Woodland, Llano Uplift
Northern Nueces Alluvial Plains, Rio Grande Floodplain and Terraces, Semiarid Edwards Bajada, Texas-Tamaulipan Thornscrub
Caprock Canyons Badlands Breaks
Floodplains and Low Terraces1, Northern Blackland Prairie

Plant Characteristics

Growth Form

Cactus & Succulent

Height

1
to
2
ft.

Spread

2
to
4
ft.

Leaf Retention

Evergreen

Lifespan

Perennial

Habitat and Care Requirements

Soil Type(s)

Sand, Loam, Clay, Caliche

Light Requirement

Sun, Part Shade

Water Requirement

Low

Native Habitat

Grassland

Bloom and Attraction

Bloom Color

Red, Orange, Yellow

Bloom Season

Spring

Seasonal Interest

Fruit, Nectar, Pollen

Wildlife Benefit

Nectar Insects, Bees

Maintenance

Little maintenance required. Needs well-drained soil. Late winter prune pads away from sidewalks and patios. The spread of this plant can be limited by removing fallen pads. Spineless varieties exist. Propagation: Transplant pads, Seeds.

Comments

Blooms April-June. Shrub-like form, erect or spreading. Pads are green to blue-green, round to oval, They have sharp spines as well as tiny barbed bristles called glochids that can be difficult to remove from the skin. The flowers, 2-5 inches across, are forming along the edge of the pad. Petals vary from yellow to yellow-orange to red. Red to purple fruit called “Tuna”. Attracts bees and nectar insects.

References

1) Griffith, Bryce, Omernick & Rodgers (2007). Ecoregions of Texas. 2) https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=OPENL. 3) https://portal.torcherbaria.org/portal/taxa/index.php?taxon=Opuntia+engelmannii+var.+lindheimeri&formsubmit=Search+Terms. 4) http://bonap.net/TDC/Image/Map?taxonType=Species&taxonId=6757&locationType=County&mapType=Normal. 5) https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=195321#null
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