Helping You Become a More Successful Gardener
Beautiful icy blue stem pads and big bold flowers distinguish this low-growing cactus as one of the most garden-worthy pricklypears. The magenta to red, gold-centered flowers of this North American desert native are sometimes nearly as broad as the beaver-tail shaped pads which bear them. They bloom in late winter and early spring, in response to winter rains. Tan, dry-fleshed, relatively small prickly pears follow the flowers. Plants spread to form broad, calf-high clumps, with each stem comprising one to three pads.
Beavertail pricklypear often lacks large primary spines, but don’t let this fool you into thinking it’s not armed. Each pad (which is not a leaf but rather a modified stem segment) bears regularly spaced tubercles packed with microscopic hair-like glochids. The lightest brush embeds them in the skin, leading in some cases to severe dermatitis. Their small size makes them very difficult to remove. Use tweezers and a magnifying glass or hair removal wax to extract them.
This beautiful sun-loving plant is a natural for a desert garden, requiring less water than most others of its spiny kin. The pads wrinkle and shrivel in severe drought, but quickly swell after rain. Plant this pricklypear in relatively dry soil by itself or with other drought-loving desert plants.
Although the pads are not actually leaves, they are treated as such in the following list of characteristics.
10 - 1
7 - 10
2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Cactus or Succulent
8"-16" / 20.3cm - 40.6cm
3'-6' / 0.9m - 1.8m
Early Spring, Late Winter
Southwestern United States, Mexico
Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Container, Edible, Feature Plant, Groundcover, Houseplant, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Wildflower
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