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Opuntia engelmannii var. engelmannii (Cactus apple)
Loughmiller, Campbell and Lynn

Opuntia engelmannii var. engelmannii

Opuntia engelmannii Salm-Dyck ex Engelm. var. engelmannii

Cactus Apple, Prickly Pear

Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Synonym(s): Opuntia dillei, Opuntia discata, Opuntia lindheimeri var. tricolor, Opuntia megacarpa, Opuntia microcarpa, Opuntia occidentalis var. megacarpa, Opuntia phaeacantha var. discata, Opuntia tardospina, Opuntia tricolor, Opuntia ×subarmata


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

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.


From the Image Gallery

5 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Cactus/Succulent
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Up to about 8 feet tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Orange , Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul


USA: AZ , CA , NM , NV , TX , UT

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam Clay

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

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

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


Bibref 765 - McMillen's Texas Gardening: Wildflowers (1998) Howard, D.
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2022-10-20
Research By: TWC Staff

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