Engelmann’s Prickly Pear

(Opuntia engelmannii)

An Engelmann's Prickly Pear cactus in the specimen bed.

This is one of several Opuntia in the specimen beds between the café and solar field. A sprawling, shrubby Opuntia, it will grow in many directions. It doesn’t usually form stems, instead pads spread from the base. Its pads can grow up to a foot long, and its spines (leaves) can be quite variable and, on some plants, completely absent. It has hybridized into many varieties that occur in different regions as a result of human selection, use, and its tendency to replant easily in disturbed areas.

Its bloom is yellow to reddish in color, and many parts of the plant are used for food and medicine.

Its distribution is widely spread through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, and in San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, and Hidalgo, in northern and central Mexico.

 

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