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Opuntia santa-rita

Opuntia santa-rita (Griffiths & Hare) Rose

Opuntia chlorotica Engelm. & Bigelow var. santa-rita Griffiths & Hare

Opuntia violacea Engelm. var. santa-rita (Griffiths & Hare) L.D. Benson

Santa Rita Purple Prickly Pear, Santa Rita Pricklypear

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassCaryophyllidaeCacti, many other succulents, carnivorous plants, and leadworts
OrderCaryophyllalesIncludes cacti, carnations, amaranths, ice plants, and many carnivorous plants
FamilyCactaceaeSucculent (water-storing) plants, often spiny
GenusOpuntiaPrickly pears

About plant names...

Santa Rita Prickly Pear is native to Texas, Arizona, and northern Mexico.

Identification: This cactus usually has distinctive purple coloring. Pads are 4-8" (10-20 cm), tinged with purple; turning entirely purple when very dry. Spineless, or pink or reddish spines less than 1½" (3.8 cm) long. There are also tiny reddish-brown, loosely attached spines called glochids, which are irritating and difficult to remove. Flowers are lemon yellow, becoming more orange as they age. Flowers occur on tops of pads. Fruit is barrel-shaped, smooth, about 1" (2.5 cm) x 1½" (3.8 cm).

Cochineal insects (Dactylopius confusus) attack prickly pear cacti, leaving a whitish, wool-like substance behind. Although these insects are regarded as annoyances today, they were a source of brilliant red dye to the Aztecs.

Online References:

Opuntia santa-rita at Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and the Plants of the Sonoran Desert

Opuntia santa-rita at George and Audrey DeLange's Arizona wildflower site

Opuntia santa-rita at the Vanderbilt University Bioimages web site

Opuntia santa-rita at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Sonoran Desert Digital Library

Opuntia santa-rita on Desert-tropicals.com

Opuntia santa-rita at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Opuntia santa-rita at the Tohono O’odham Community College TOCC Plant Atlas

Opuntia santa-rita on eFloras


Bowers, Nora and Rick; Tekiela, Stan, Cactus of Arizona Field Guide, Adventure Publications Inc., 2008, p. 147.

Opuntia santa-rita description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.

© FloraFinder.org. All rights reserved.


Opuntia santa-rita (Santa Rita Purple Prickly Pear, Santa Rita Pricklypear)

5/25/2009 · Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior, AZ
≈ 7 × 4½' (2.2 × 1.5 m)

Opuntia santa-rita (Santa Rita Purple Prickly Pear, Santa Rita Pricklypear)

5/6/2014 · American Southwest (AZ or TX) · By Jacquelyn Boyt

Opuntia santa-rita (Santa Rita Purple Prickly Pear, Santa Rita Pricklypear)

5/25/2009 · Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior, AZ
≈ 3 × 2' (1 × 0.7 m)


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