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Opuntia macrorhiza (Bigroot prickly pear)
Marcus, Joseph A.

Opuntia macrorhiza

Opuntia macrorhiza Engelm.

Bigroot Prickly Pear, Twist-spine Prickly Pear, Common Prickly Pear, Plains Prickly Pear

Cactaceae (Cactus Family)


USDA Symbol: opma2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

This is a low, clump-forming prickly pear, usually less than 10 in. tall, with flattened, bluish-green pads. Flowers appear at the upper margins of older segments and are 2-3 in. across. Flower petals are papery and light yellow, often reddish at the base. The fruit is fleshy, reddish-purple and without spines. Twist-spine Prickly-pear can form clumps up to 3 ft. across.


From the Image Gallery

21 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 1 foot tall, often shorter. Pads are about 2 1/2 in. wide by 4 in. long.
Flower: Flowers up to 2 1/4 inches wide.
Fruit: Reddish purple.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Orange , Yellow
Bloom Time: May , Jun


USA: AR , AZ , CO , IA , ID , IL , KS , LA , MN , MO , MT , NE , NM , OH , OK , SD , TX , UT , WI , WY
Native Distribution: AZ to c. TX & LA, n. irregularly to s. CO, s.w. SD, s. MN & IL; also reported in e. MT
Native Habitat: Dry plains; open woods. In grasslands and woodlands up to 7,00ft elevation.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Rocky or sandy soils. Sandy, Gravelly, Sandy Loam
Conditions Comments: This cactus is clump forming and makes a good lower ground cover for a small area. It also looks good in rock gardens and stone walls. The showy yellow flowers ripen into red fruit in late summer. The fruit can be used for candies and jams.


Use Ornamental: Attractive, Blooms ornamental, Desert landscape
Conspicuous Flowers: 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.

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Edible plants native to Austin, TX
August 05, 2009
Hello, I am a chef from Buenos Aires Argentina visiting Austin, Texas and would like to learn about native, edible plants in the region. Please let me know if there are any native, edible plants...
view the full question and answer

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Fredericksburg Nature Center - Fredericksburg, TX
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
United States Botanic Garden - Washington, DC
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
Jacob's Well Natural Area - Wimberley, TX

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-1907 Collected 2016-10-16 in McLennan County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 1141 - Cactuses of Big Bend National Park (1998) Evans, Douglas B.
Bibref 286 - Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country (1989) Enquist, M.

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


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

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