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NPIN: Native Plant Database

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Opuntia basilaris (Beavertail pricklypear)
Gammill, Lynn Crosby

Opuntia basilaris

Opuntia basilaris Engelm. & J.M. Bigelow

Beavertail pricklypear, Beavertail cactus

Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Synonym(s):

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 Characteristics

Duration: 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: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr , May , Jun
Bloom Notes: Diurnal

Distribution

USA: AZ , CA , NV , UT
Native Distribution: S.w. UT to s. CA, s. to n. Mex.
Native Habitat: Rocky or sandy plains, valleys, washes & canyons in deserts

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Sandy or gravelly soils.
Conditions Comments: Minimum temperature 45F

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Propagation

Description: 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 on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA

Bibliography

Bibref 1140 - Cacti (1991) Clive Innes and Charles Glass
Bibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

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

Metadata

Record Modified: 2009-02-20
Research By: TWC Staff

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