Opuntia santa-rita – Santa Rita Pricklypear

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

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

Opuntia santa-rita - Santa Rita Pricklypear, Santa Rita Prickly Pear, Purple Prickly-pear

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Opuntia santa-rita

Synonyms: Opuntia chlorotica var. santa-rita, O. violacea var. santa-rita

Common Names: Santa Rita Pricklypear, Santa Rita Prickly Pear, Purple Prickly-pear

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial

Growth Habit: Tree, Shrub, Cactus

Arizona Native Status: Native

Habitat: Desert, Upland. This attractive cactus is especially common in the foothills of Arizona's Santa Rita Mountains.

Flower Color: Lemon yellow

Flowering Season: Spring

Height: To 7 feet (2.1 m) tall, but usually less

Description: The flowers are up to 3 1/2 inches (7.6 cm) wide and have solid yellow tepals, pale yellow anther filaments, and a whitish style. The flowers are followed by egg-shaped to barrel-shaped, glochid-dotted, reddish to purple fruit. The stem pads are flattened, round, usually spineless, dotted with aureole glochids (sharp micro-spines), and blue-green, purple, or magenta in color. The stem pads turn a brighter purple color when stressed by cold or drought and are a green color when conditions are better.

The similar Purple Pricklypear (Opuntia macrocentra) has flowers with red at the base of the tepals and usually has spines, mainly at the top edge of the stem pads.

Special Characteristics

Legal StatusProtected Native Plant (Salvage Restricted)

Classification

Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Caryophyllidae
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Cactaceae – Cactus family
Genus: Opuntia Mill. – pricklypear
Species: Opuntia santa-rita (Griffiths & Hare) Rose – Santa Rita pricklypear

More About This Plant

Arizona County Distribution Map