• View from the Canyon Rim Trail. Photo by Jeff Kochevar


    National Monument Colorado

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Potato Prickly Pear

Potato Cactus

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?


The common raven displays abilities to play and problem solve rare among animals. This member of the crow family is also very vocal, using a variety of sounds for communication. Perhaps because of these qualities, ravens have achieved a certain stature in both European and American Indian folklore.