Engelmann's prickly pear Opuntia engelmannii ( O. phaecantha var. discarta)


Opuntia phaecantha
Opuntia engelmannii
General Information
Plant Form Shrub Plant Size 4' x 10'
Plant Type Evergreen Water Usage Low
Sunlight Sun Colors Yellow
Physical Description Erect but spreading mass of large flat, succulent, spiny, stem pads with 3" lemon-yellow flowers in late spring to early summer, replaced by large, egg-shaped, rose-purple, juicy fruit.
Care and Maintenance Overwatering. Cochineal bugs. Long spines and irritating glochids on pads. Difficult to dispose safely of dead or pruned pads. Litter and wind blown trash difficult to remove.
Gardener's notes Large, deep purple fruit known as "tunas" equal flowers for color display and are edible, as are young pads. Largest pads (12" across) of any US native species. Native to El Paso along with smaller low growing but similar Brown spiny prickly pear, O. phaecantha. Similar SW natives available include O. lindheimeria var. linguiformis or Texas cow's tongue, with odd, elongated pads on a vigorous, hard to control, very spiney plant. Mexican species with few spines developed for edible pads also found in nursery trade.