Potato Prickly Pear
Potato Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia fragilis var. brachyartha)
Other Names: brittle prickly pear
Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family)
Description: a spreading, mat-forming cactus rarely growing more than 6 inches high. Round pads are 2 inches across with white spines ½-1½ inches long. Red, yellow, or pink flowers are produced from May to June.
Range: occurs throughout western and central United States from California to Illinois, south to Texas, and north into Canada. Look for it growing in Colorado National Monument in pinyon-juniper forests at higher elevations.
Did you know: as its nickname suggests, the brittle prickly pear is a delicate plant. Like those of other prickly pears, the pads of Opuntia fragilis break off easily when an animal (or a human) gets too close. If the fallen pad lands in a suitable growing environment, it can regenerate a whole new plant by a process called clonal or asexual reproduction.
Did You Know?
Colorado National Monument's Independence Monument is 450 feet tall from its base to its top. The top of Independence Monument is 5,739 feet in elevation.