Cactaceae Opuntia phaeacantha

Opuntia phaecantha

Opuntia phaeacantha

Family: Cactaceae – Cactus Family

Perennial herbaceous or woody succulents; 1' to 3' (30 to 90 cm) tall and 1' to 5' (3 to 15 dm) wide or more

Leaves: spines are modified leaves; has fleshy pads

Flowers: showy petals are yellow or mixed with red below; petaloid sepals; stamens numerous, 1 style; generally bisexual; flowers 2.4” to 4.4” (6 to 11 cm) long

Pollinators: insects and hummingbirds

Fruits: large dry or fleshy many-seeded berry

Blooms in Arches National Park: April, May, June

Habitat in Arches National Park: desert shrub and pinyon-juniper communities

Location seen: widespread

Other: The genus name, “Opuntia”, is the Greek name for a spiny plant that grew near Opus, Greece and the species name, “phaeacantha”, means "gray thorns” which comes from the Greek “phaios” meaning “dusky, gray” and “akantha” which means “thorn”.

Root systems are shallow unless there is deep water. Stomates (pores) are open during the night, allowing entry of carbon dioxide, which is chemically stored. During the day, the carbon dioxide is used in photosynthesis.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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