Virginia Tech Dendrology

Plains pricklypear Cactaceae Opuntia polyacantha Haw. Listen to the Latin symbol: OPPO
Leaf: Reduced to a spine, up to 2 1/2 inches, areoles approximately 1 1/2 inch apart, white to yellow-brown, may completely cover the segments.
Flower: Yellow, pink or red, 2 inches across, late spring to early summer, born along the edges of the joints.
Fruit: Barrel-shaped, fleshy, unarmed or armed with very short spines, yellow-green ripening to purple, to 1 1/2 inches, maturing late summer.
Twig: Segmented, each segment broad and flat, oval to round in shape, to 6 inches long and less than one inch thick, often described as a "beaver tail", gray-green.
Form: Shrubby, to a height of 2 feet, forming 4 foot wide clumps.
Looks like: Engelmann's pricklypear - blind pricklypear
leaf flower fruit twig form1 map
Additional Range Information: Opuntia polyacantha is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting Plains pricklypear.
External Links: USDA Plants Database - Horticulture Information
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson