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Opuntia macrocentra (Purple pricklypear)
Anderson, Wynn

Opuntia macrocentra

Opuntia macrocentra Engelm.

Purple Pricklypear, Purple Prickly Pear, Long-spined Prickly Pear, Black Spine Prickly Pear

Cactaceae (Cactus Family)


USDA Symbol: OPMA8

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)


From the Image Gallery

47 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Cactus/Succulent
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Bushy plant up to nearly 3 feet tall, with oblong or nearly rounded joints 4-8 inches long and about 6 inches wide.
Flower: Flowers 2 inches long.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug
Bloom Notes: Diurnal flowering.


Native Distribution: Also northern Mexico
Native Habitat: Natural range is from Trans-Pecos Texas to Arizona. Well-drained caliche, loam, sand, clay.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Heat Tolerant: yes
Conditions Comments: Purple prickly pear is similar in form and provides the same rugged accent as the more common prickly pear (Opuntia lindheimeri) known in Central Texas. Its violet-lavender pads separate it from the other prickly pears. Purple prickly pear, like most prickly pear species, will grow easily; you only have to protect it from freeze, as severe cold can kill them. Minimum temperature 45F.


Warning: Care should be taken in handling this plant, since the minute, tufted, barbed bristles (glochids) at the base of the spines can be more troublesome than the spines typical of most cacti; they are lined with backward-pointing hooks, making them nearly impossible to remove from the skin.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Deer Resistant: High

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

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


Commercially Avail: yes


Bibref 1140 - Cacti (1991) Clive Innes and Charles Glass

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2021-09-30
Research By: TWC Staff

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