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Beaver Tail Prickly Pear

Opuntia basilaris

Details & Attributes


Plant Type(s) Cactus, succulent, perennial
Native to Arizona Yes!
Water Needs Low
Sun Full sun
Pollinators Bees
Has Spines Yes
Size
In relative feet, width by height
1-2' × 3-4'
Freeze Tolerant No
Flowering Season February-June
Flower Color Pink (occasionally white)
Minimum Temperature Range 0 °F
Leaf Description Bluish/purple cladodes (pads)
Fruit Green fruits with numerous tan seeds
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Range Map View SEINet Range Map
Elevation Range 1000-5500 ft.
Ethnobotany Buds were cooked and eaten or dried for storage, seeds ground into mush, joints boiled and mixed with other foods or eaten as greens, fruits dried and sold by children in small sacks for ten cents.
Description A common prickly pear in western Arizona where it occupies habitats ranging from scorching desert washes to oak and juniper studded woodland. In general this species stays low to the ground, spreading wider than tall, forming a patch which erupts in showy pink flowers in the spring. Beaver tail prickly pear is generally more or less spineless, though it still has glochids (those prickly hairs which get stuck in your skin!), and the pads take on a gorgeous purple hue in response to sun or cold exposure.