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Gammill, Lynn Crosby
Opuntia basilaris Engelm. & J.M. Bigelow
Beavertail pricklypear, Beavertail cactus
USDA Symbol: opba2
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
Flat, grayish-green, leafless, jointed stems in a clump, lack large spines and have vivid rose or reddish-lavender flowers on upper edge of joint. Beaver-tail cactus is a low-growing prickly pear, 6-12 in. high, with brilliant, majenta flowers. The pads of this cactus lack the long, straight spines of other prickly pears but are covered with miniscule, gray-blue bristles with barbed tips.
The gray-green stems, low growth, and brilliant flowers, which often nearly cover the plant, make this a popular ornamental in hot, dry climates. It need not be dug up; a joint broken from a plant will quickly root in dry sand. Opuntia with flat joints are called Pricklypear; in the Southwest, if the fruits are juicy and edible, they area called tuna by people of Spanish-American heritage.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Cactus/Succulent Size Notes:
Up to 3ft high, almost oval
joints 4-8in long. Flower:
Flowers 2 1/2 to 3 1/4 inches long and across
Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color:
Red , Pink , Purple Bloom Time:
Feb , Mar , Apr , May , Jun Bloom Notes: Diurnal
, UT Native Distribution:
to s. CA,
s. to n. Mex. Native Habitat:
Rocky or sandy plains, valleys, washes & canyons in deserts
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Sandy or gravelly soils.
Conditions Comments: Minimum temperature 45F
PropagationDescription: Sow seed.
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: No treatment is necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
- Santa Barbara, CA
Record Last Modified: 2009-02-20
Research By: TWC Staff