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Opuntia macrocentra var. macrocentra (Purple pricklypear)
Loughmiller, Campbell and Lynn

Opuntia macrocentra var. macrocentra

Opuntia macrocentra Engelm. var. macrocentra

Purple Pricklypear, Purple Prickly Pear

Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Synonym(s): Opuntia violacea, Opuntia violacea var. castetteri, Opuntia violacea var. macrocentra


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

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).


From the Image Gallery

6 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Cactus/Succulent
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun



Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Heat Tolerant: yes

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

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

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2022-01-26
Research By: TWC Staff

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