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


    National Monument Colorado

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  • Visitor Center is OPEN 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Daily

    Alcove Nature Trail CLOSED for reconstruction until further notice.

Purple Fruited Prickly Pear

Purple Fruited Prickly Pear

Purple-Fruited Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia phaeacantha var. phaeacantha)

Other Names: tulip prickly pear

Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Description: a spreading, mat-forming cactus growing up to 2 feet tall. Purplish pads are up to 6 inches long, with spines up to 2 inches covering only the upper half of the pad. Yellow flowers appear in May to June, with purple fruits present by late July.

Range: occurs from California to Kansas and south to Texas. Look for it growing throughout Colorado National Monument and in surrounding areas.

Did you know: the purple fruit for which the purple-fruited prickly pear is named is as sweet as the more familiar apple or pear. The fruit of the prickly pear may make a delicious treat for the knowledgeable hiker, but watch out-the fruit, which often bears thorns, is also a favorite snack of coyotes.

Did You Know?

Independence Monument

Independence Monument is all that remains of a continuous ridge that once formed a wall between Monument and Wedding Canyons. A cap of durable Kayenta rock has protected this picturesque 450 feet (137 meters) high monolith from the relentless erosion that carried away the surrounding rock.