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.