Opuntia macrocentra, Long-spined Prickly Pear
Scientific Name: Opuntia macrocentra
Common Name: Long-spined Prickly Pear
Also Called: Purple Prickly Pear, Purple Pricklypear, Purple Prickly-pear; (Spanish: Duraznilla, Nopal)
Family: Cactaceae, Cactus Family
Synonyms: (Opuntia violacea var. macrocentra)
Size: Up to 9 feet tall, usually much less.
Growth Form: Shrub, tree; erect to decumbent; stem segments purple to green, flattened, broadly obovate to sub-circular, thickish.
Leaves: Leaves modified into spines or glochids and emerging from areoles, spines 0 or 1 to 15 per areole; glochids reddish yellow, aging brown.
Flower Color: Yellow, inner tepals numerous, yellow with red basal portions, filaments and anthers yellowish, style cream and stigma lobes green; fruits red to purplish, obovoid to barrel-shaped, fleshy or somewhat juicy, glabrous and spine-less.
Flowering Season: March to June.
Elevation: 2,000 to 5,000 feet.
Habitat Preferences: Desert uplands, sandy desert flats, rocky hills and valleys; grasslands, oak woodlands.
Recorded Range: In the United States Opuntia macrocentra is found in the southwestern states of AZ, NM, TX. It is native to much of northern Mexico. In Arizona in is found in the eastern quarter and southern parts of the state.
U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: Arizona: Opuntia macrocentra, Purple Prickly Pear is salvage restricted.
Genus Information: In North America there are 52 species for Opuntia. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 194 accepted species names and a further 203 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus.
In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 16 species of Opuntia, California and Utah each have 10 species, Nevada has 6 species, New Mexico has 13 species, Texas has 23 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.
There are 2 varieties in Opuntia macrocentra:
Opuntia macrocentra var. macrocentra, Purple Pricklypear (AZ, NM, TX);
Opuntia macrocentra var. minor, Purple Pricklypear (TX).
Comments: Long-spined Prickly Pear produces edible fruit. This species, cultivated as an ornamental, is a Chihuahuan Desert cactus. The genus name Opuntia is derived from the Latin root "puncti" meaning prickled.
In Southwest Desert Flora also see: Beavertail Pricklypear, Opuntia basilaris; Cactus Apple, Opuntia engelmannii; Twistspine Pricklypear, Opuntia macrorhiza; Tulip Pricklypear, Opuntia phaeacantha and Santa Rita Pricklypear, Opuntia santa-rita.