Opuntia santa-rita – Santa Rita Pricklypear
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
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.
Legal Status – Protected Native Plant (Salvage Restricted)
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Family: Cactaceae – Cactus family
Genus: Opuntia Mill. – pricklypear
Species: Opuntia santa-rita (Griffiths & Hare) Rose – Santa Rita pricklypear
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