Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Opuntia macrocentra

Purple Prickly Pear, Purple pricklypear

Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Opuntia macrocentra (Purple prickly pear)
Loughmiller, Campbell and Lynn

Image Gallery:

6 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Cactus/Succulent
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Size Notes: Bushy plant up to nearly 3ft tall, with oblong or nearly rounded joints 4-8in long and about 6in wide.
Flower: Flowers 2 inches long
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug
Bloom Notes: Diurnal blooms


Native Distribution: Also northern Mexico
Native Habitat: Natural range is from Trans-Pecos Texas to Arizona. Well-drained caliche, loam, sand, clay.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Heat Tolerant: yes
Conditions Comments: Purple prickly pear is similar in form and provides the same rugged accent as the more common prickly pear (Opuntia lindheimeri) known in Central Texas. Its violet-lavender pads separate it from the other prickly pears. Purple prickly pear, like most prickly pear species, will grow easily; you only have to protect it from freeze, as severe cold can kill them. Minimum temperature 45F.


Warning: Care should be taken in handling this plant, since the minute, tufted, barbed bristles (glochids) at the base of the spines can be more troublesome than the spines typical of most cacti; they are lined with backward-pointing hooks, making them nearly impossible to remove from the skin.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Deer Resistant: High

Last Update: 2007-01-01