This is perhaps the most abundant prickly pear in West Texas, and one of the most attractive. The masses of yellow to orange flowers it produces will bring one to a stop, no matter how often they are encountered. The plant itself is sometimes 8 feet across and almost as tall. The fruits, called tuna, are up to 2 1/2 inches long with a deep maroon color that makes the plant attractive after the flowers are gone (248).
The species and variety of this plant are named for George Engelmann (1809-1884) who was born in Germany and settled in St. Louis, Missouri, as a young man. He was a physician and botanist, describing especially North American Abies (Firs), Agaves, Cactus (for which he described more than 108 species), Cuscuta (Dodder), Euphorbiaceae (Spurge Family), Juncus (Rushes), Juniperus (“Cedar”), Pinus (Pines), Vitis (Grapes), and Yuccas. When he died much of his collection went to Missouri Botanical Garden.
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