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OPUNTIA chlorotica

Image of Opuntia chlorotica

Maureen Gilmer

Family

Cactaceae

Botanical Name

OPUNTIA chlorotica

Plant Common Name

Dollarjoint Pricklypear

General Description

The large, round, pale blue-green pads of this often tree-like prickly pear make a fine contrast with painted backgrounds or darker cacti. Although resembling large succulent leaves, the pads are in fact swollen stem segments (but are treated as foliage in the following description of characteristics). The upright stems of this head-high cactus are often six or more pads long. They typically arise from a stout short trunk. They are wickedly armed with formidable golden spines and tiny barbed glochids (hair-like bristles). The spines age to maroon or black. This native of the Southwest United States and northern Mexico bears waxy yellow many-petaled flowers in spring and early summer, followed by cylindrical purplish-red fruit. The cup-shaped flowers have red-stained exteriors.

For sunny desert gardens, few plants can compare to this for ease of cultivation and visual interest. Where native, it makes a good specimen cactus for difficult zones between cultivated and wild land, combining beautifully with other desert natives. Beware when handling this cactus, and plant it well away from pathways and activity areas.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    10 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    7 - 10

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    3'-8' / 0.9m - 2.4m

  • Width

    3'-6' / 0.9m - 1.8m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    Southwestern United States, Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow, Red

  • Fruit Color

    Purple, Dark Red

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Gray Green

  • Bark Color

    Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Bold

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Edible, Feature Plant, Mixed Border, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No