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Cactus Apple Pricklypear (Opuntia engelmannii)
Cactus Around Las Vegas, Vegetation Around Las Vegas
Cactus Apple Pricklypear (Opuntia engelmannii)

General: Cactus Apple Pricklypear (Opuntia engelmannii) is a mound-shaped cactus with spreading lower stems and more upright upper stems. The stem segments are flat pads that are 10-12 inches long and oval in shape. All areoles have 3-12 spines, the longest of which are about 2-inches long, more-or-less flat, and yellow. Flowers yellow. Fruit is a fleshy "cactus apple" with a red interior.

Pricklypear can be difficult to identify; sometimes it is better to just call it a pricklypear and let it go at that.

Cactus Apple Pricklypear (Opuntia engelmannii)

Cactus Apple Pricklypear is locally common (not found everywhere, but can be abundant where it occurs) component of vegetation communities on well-drained sandy, gravelly, and rocky soils along washes and on upper bajadas and moderate slopes into the lower mountains in the Lower Sonoran (Creosote-Bursage Flats) and Upper Sonoran (Mojave Desert Scrub and Pinyon-Juniper Woodland) life zones.

Around Las Vegas, this species is most easily seen south of town in places like Spirit Mountain Wilderness Area and Bridge Mountain Wilderness Area (Christmas Tree Pass), the South McCullough Wilderness Area, and over in Arizona.

Cactus Apple Pricklypear (Opuntia engelmannii)

Family: Cactus (Cactaceae).

Other Names:

Plant Form: mounded, spreading upright shrub.

Height: Usually to about thigh high (to 4 feet).

Cactus Apple Pricklypear (Opuntia engelmannii)

Trunk: None.

Stems: Divided into segments; flat and broad (pancake shaped), oval, to about 1-foot long.

Stem Surface: Smooth.

Spines: Usually 3 to 12 spines per areole. Larger spines flattened, yellowish.

Cactus Apple Pricklypear (Opuntia engelmannii)

Glochids: Present, usually dense along the upper edge of the pads, but few on the sides of the pads.

Flowers: Blooms during early summer. Inflorescence: flowers solitary along upper edge of pads (set atop developing fruit). Flowers: yellow; to about 1-1/2-inches diameter; filaments white; style white, stigma greenish.

Fruit: "Cactus apple." Fruit juicy, purplish exterior and interior; 1 to 2-1/2-inches long. Spines absent, but glochids present.

Seeds: Small, to about 6 mm.

Cactus Apple Pricklypear (Opuntia engelmannii)

Habitat: Dry, well-drained sandy, gravelly, and rocky soils on upper bajadas and moderate slopes in the lower mountains.

Distribution: California to Texas and south into Mexico.

Elevation: About sea level to 5,000 feet.

Comments: Pricklypear species hybridize, sometimes making identification difficult. This confusion is evidenced by the plethora of scientific names assigned to populations of this species.

Cactus Apple Pricklypear (Opuntia engelmannii) Cactus Apple Pricklypear (Opuntia engelmannii)
Cactus Apple Pricklypear (Opuntia engelmannii) Cactus Apple Pricklypear (Opuntia engelmannii)
Cactus Apple Pricklypear (Opuntia engelmannii) Cactus Apple Pricklypear (Opuntia engelmannii)
Cactus Apple Pricklypear (Opuntia engelmannii) more to come ...

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate. Names generally follow the USDA database.
copyright; Last updated 100826

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