Plant Image
Plant - summer
Little Thumb Butte - Sue Smith

Yavapai County Native & Naturalized Plants

Opuntia engelmannii - cactus apple

Synonyms: Opuntia phaeacantha var. discata
Other Common Names: Tuna, nopal, purple fruit prickly pear, prickly pear cactus
Plant Form: Cacti

Family: Cactaceae

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Plant - summer
Granite Mtn - Tr 261
Marv Mazur
Granite Mtn - Tr 261
Marv Mazur
Flower buds
Granite Mtn - Tr 261
Marv Mazur
Granite Mtn - Tr 261
Marv Mazur
Little Thumb Butte
Sue Smith
Plant Description

Origin: Native   Similar Species: O. phaeacantha, O. macrocentra
General Desc: A wide, spreading cactus to 15 feet in diameter. Has circular to oblong pads (stems) up to 10 inches long and 1/2 inch thick. Color is green to blue-green. The pads are connected to each other by brittle joints.
Identification notes: Pads 4 to 10 inches in diameter, plants are several pads tall in height, three visible central spines common per areole, spines and patches of sparse glochids often in areoles all over the pad, consistently golden-yellow, never bi-colored flower petals.
Height: 4 to 6 feet     Width: 10 to 15 feet


Plant Communities: Interior Chaparral, Semidesert Grasslands, Pinyon Juniper Woodland
Elevation: 1500 - 7500 feet


Color: Yellow     Flowering Period: Apr - Jun
Description: Yellow, orange or red to 3-1/4 inches wide. Blooms appear on edge of flat pads.


Stem Color: Dull yellowish green or bluish green     Number of Stems: Need value     Stem Shape: Need value     Stems Segmented: U     Stem Surface: Need value
Stem Description: Stems are segmented into pads, each pad 6 to 16 inches long and 4 to 16 inches wide, oblong, circular in shape, with short spine. Pads are firmly attached.

Areoles (structures unique to cacti, found on the stems, areas from which spines, flowers and fruits emerge)

Areole Description:
Spine Color: Ash grey to white     Spines Hooked: U    
Spine Description: The spines (leaves) grow to 3 inches long, either flattened, curved, or straight. The areas where spines develop have brown or yellowish barbed bristles.


Fruit Color: Red   
Fruit Notes: The red to purplish, pear-shaped fruit to 3 inches long and 1-1/2 inches in diameter grows along the edge of the pads and is very attractive, edible, nutritious and juicy.

  Arizona Cooperative Extension
Yavapai County
840 Rodeo Dr #C
Prescott, AZ 86305
(928) 445-6590
Version 8.0  
Last Updated: Feb 16, 2020  
Content Questions/Comments: Email Jeff Schalau  
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