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.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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