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Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri (Texas prickly pear)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri

Opuntia engelmannii Salm-Dyck ex Engelm. var. lindheimeri (Engelm.) Parfitt & Pinkava

Texas Prickly Pear, Lindheimer's Prickly Pear, Lindheimer Prickly Pear

Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Synonym(s): Opuntia engelmannii var. alta, Opuntia engelmannii var. cacanapa, Opuntia engelmannii var. dulcis, Opuntia engelmannii var. texana, Opuntia lindheimeri, Opuntia lindheimeri var. lehmannii

USDA Symbol: openl

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Texas Prickly Pear often grows to 5 feet tall. It may be erect or spreading, with a more or less definite trunk. The pads are green to blue-green, round to oval, 4-10 inches long. The tubercles are 1 1/2-2 1/2 inches apart. The 1-6 spines are yellow, which distinguishes this species from O. phaeacantha varieties. One spine is longer than the rest, about 4 1/2 inches. Occasionally a plant is spineless. The flowers, 2-5 inches across, are often crowded on the edge of the pad. They have several greenish-yellow sepals. Petals vary from yellow to yellow-orange to red, often with the whole range of colors on one plant. Flowers have 1 pistil and many yellow stamens. The fruit is a prickly pear, maturing purple, very seedy.

The species of this plant is 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.

This variety is named after Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer (1801-1879) who is often called the Father of Texas Botany because of his work as the first permanent-resident plant collector in Texas. In 1834 Lindheimer immigrated to the United States as a political refugee. He spent from 1843-1852 collecting specimens in Texas. In 1844 he settled in New Braunfels, Texas, and was granted land on the banks of the Comal River, where he continued his plant collecting and attempted to establish a botanical garden. He shared his findings with many others who shared his interest in botany, including Ferdinand von Roemer and Adolph Scheele. Lindheimer is credited with the discovery of several hundred plant species. In addition his name is used to designate forty-eight species and subspecies of plants. He is buried in New Braunfels. His house, on Comal Street in New Braunfels, is now a museum.


From the Image Gallery

80 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 5 feet tall.

Bloom Information

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


USA: LA , MO , MS , NM , OK , TX
Native Habitat: Well-drained sand, loam, clay, and caliche. Common on the Edwards Plateau, uncommon in desert habitats.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Conditions Comments: The flattened pads of this cactus range from green to blue green. Depending on its location, the 2-4 inch flowers range from greenish yellow to orange. The purple, pear-shaped fruit, is very attractive as well as edible. There is also a "spineless" form that is displayed at the Wildflower Center formal gardens.


Use Food: Tunas (fruits) were roasted by Indians.
Warning: Most cacti of the genus Opuntia have sharp spines as well as tiny barbed bristles called glochids that can be difficult to remove from the skin. The bristles of the Beavertail can irritate the skin but this species does not pose the danger of species with long, rigid spines, such as the Plains Prickly-pear (Opuntia polyacantha).
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Nectar Source: 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.


Propagation Material: Seeds
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:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Patsy Glenn Refuge, c/o Wimberley Birding Society - Wimberley, TX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
Texas Master Naturalists - Lost Pines Chapter - Bastrop, TX
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0948 Collected Sep 1, 1994 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe

1 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium


Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
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. lindheimeri in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri


Record Modified: 2023-02-21
Research By: NPC, WFS

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