Opuntia violaceae santa rita     
Santa Rita prickly pear   
Cactaceae Family     

Compiled by the Master Gardeners
of the University of Arizona Pima County Cooperative Extension.


Form: large clump-forming segmented cactus
Seasonality: evergreen
Size: 2-5ft with equal or greater spread
Leaves: flat round pads, to 8in long; new growth is reddish or purply, mature pads off-green; in fall all pads may be purple; aeroles evenly spaced about 1in apart; spines usually absent on face but found along perimeter of pads; numerous yellow, fuzzy-looking glochids are dangerous (see notes)
Flowers: orangy yellow, 3.5in diameter, along edge of pads
Fruit: oblong, purplish, plump, 1in tall 1/2in in diameter; smaller than O. engelmannii
Stems/Trunks: generally not trunk forming; usual form is mounded
Range/Origin: Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Sonora Mexico; elevations of 2000-4000ft
Hardiness: mid to low teens

prickly pear cactus
Opuntia violaceae santa rita



icon of the desert southwest

The reddish brown glochids of Opuntia violaceae are very loosely attached and fly off when the plant is handle. The loose glochids are an irritant, and can get under clothing, in eyes, and may even be a breathing hazard. For safe handling, wet specimens before moving. The water weighs down the glochids, preventing them from becoming airborne.

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This page was first created September 21, 2001 and last modified June 1, 2006.

Web page design and photographs by Toni Moore, Master Gardener
email to: tmoore1@flash.net

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