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ID
  
 
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Prickly Pear Cactus
Cactaceae
Opuntia phaeacantha


Thunder
Thunder
Flower Petal # 7+
Main Color    
Color 2    
Type Categories Useful Parts

Herb



Cactaceae Family

Opuntia Genus
Other Names for this Plant

Plains prickly pear, Many-spined cactus, Tulip Prickly Pear


Location

Origin & Range: Thought to have originated in central Mexico. Southern Nevada, Utah, Colorado, southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, western Kansas, Oklahoma, and the western two-thirds of Texas. Great Basin, Mojave, and Chihuahuan Deserts

Physical Description
3'; W 5'. Sprawling or erect, colony-forming prickly-pear.

Stem joints: to 18", bluish green, yellow in dry areas, flattened.

Spines: 1-8 per areole.

Flowers: 2-3" long and wide, yellow to orange with bright red centers.

Fruit: 1 1/2", red-purple, fleshy at maturity; spineless but covered with glochids.
The Desert Prickly-pear is an erect or sprawling shrub with fleshy fruit and brown to black spines. This species has a very wide range, and up to ten or more varieties have been described, making exact identification confusing. Usually the varieties are distinguished by pad size, spine distribution on the pad, spine color and size, and fruit length. The Desert Prickly-pear has adapted to both the deserts of Texas and the cool moist forests of the Rocky Mountains. It blooms from April to June.




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Cactaceae
Caryophyllales
Caryophyllales
Core Eudicots
Core Eudicots
Main, Real, Two First-Leaves (Dicots)
Eudicots
Eudicots
Real, Two First-Leaves (Dicots)
Mesangiospermae
Mesangiospermae
Half Capsule Seed Division
Magnoliophyta
Magnoliophyta
Magnolia Division
Spermatophytes
Spermatophytes
Seed Plants
Euphyllophytina
Real Land Plants
Polysporangiates
Multiple Spore Sub-Kingdom
Stomatophytes
Stomatophytes
Air Pores Sub-Kingdom
Embryophytes
Embryophytes
Multicellular Land Plants
Streptobionta
Streptobionta
Multicellular Plants
Plantae
Plantae
Plants
Eukaryota
Eukaryota
Cells with a Nucleus


General Information

Ripe prickly pear fruits are still one of the most important wild plant dye sources for traditional Navajo rug weavers. A variety of rose and pink dyes can be made from the ripe cactus fruit. The riper or darker the fruit, the darker the dye. A rose dye is made by steeping ripe prickly pear fruit and bark or roots of Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens) in water.
The fleshy leaf is peeled and bound over a cut to stop the bleeding. In Mexico and the Southwest, its pulp and juice have been used to treat a numerous maladies; such as wounds and inflammations of the digestive and urinary tracts
The fruits were regular dietary items for most Ancestral Puebloans, although at Chaco, where the fleshy-fruited species is absent today, they seem to have played a minor role. Much farther south, the Aztecs of Mexico recognized thirteen varieties of prickly pear fruits, some sour, some sweet; some eaten raw, others were cooked. The ancient Maya Indians also ate them. Prickly pear fruits would have provided a good source of protein, vitamin C, potassium, and calcium.
The sweet juicy fruit was eaten by the Navajos, fresh, dried, or cooked in a stew with dried peaches.





Prickly Pear Cactus




Prickly Pear Cactus




Prickly Pear Cactus
Flowers and buds



Prickly Pear Cactus
Yellow and Pink flowered



Prickly Pear Cactus
Pads with fruit

Comment: Prickly Pear Cactus, Opuntia phaeacantha

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