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?
Each Independence Day, local climbers scale the iconic Independence Monument in Colorado National Monument and raise an American flag on top. This tradition dates back to early park promoter John Otto, whose route up Independence Monument climbers still follow.