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Opuntia fragilis (Brittle pricklypear)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Opuntia fragilis

Opuntia fragilis (Nutt.) Haw.

Brittle pricklypear, Fragile Prickly-pear, Pygmy Prickly Pear, Brittle cactus

Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Synonym(s): Cactus fragilis, Opuntia brachyarthra, Opuntia fragilis ssp. brachyarthra, Opuntia fragilis var. brachyarthra, Opuntia fragilis var. denudata, Opuntia fragilis var. fragilis


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

The entire plant forms a low, matted, clump of spiny jointed stems. Flowers yellow or greenish.

This is one of the most common low prickly-pears. Most have flatter stems.


Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Cactus/Succulent

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: May , Jun


USA: AZ , CA , CO , IA , ID , IL , KS , MI , MN , MT , ND , NE , NM , NV , OK , OR , SD , TX , UT , WA , WI , WY
Canada: AB , BC , MB , ON , SK
Native Distribution: Western Washington and southern British Columbia; south on the east side of the Cascade Mountains to northern California and northern Arizona; east to northern Texas and southern Michigan.
Native Habitat: Dry open areas.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Heat Tolerant: yes


Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
* Available Online from Wildflower Center Store


* The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.

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Additional resources

USDA: Find Opuntia fragilis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Opuntia fragilis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Opuntia fragilis


Record Last Modified: 2012-12-09
Research By: TWC Staff

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