The stems of the purple prickly pear are upright, 2–3 feet tall, but without the trunk-like main stem. The pads are 4–8 inches long, usually about l/2 inch thick. Sometimes they are green, but more often they are purplish overall, especially in the winter and in dry, hot summers. The areoles are about 1/2 inch apart on small plants, but up to 1 1/4 inches apart on large ones. The flowers are about 3 inches in diameter, light yellowish with red centers. The anthers are yellow. The fruit is 3/4–1 1/2 inches long, round to oval, becoming bright red or orange when ripe. These cacti present a spectacular sight in April, their peak blooming period, with as many as 65–70 large blossoms on one plant (248).
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