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Beavertail Pricklypear
Opuntia basilaris
  
About Beavertail Pricklypear (Opuntia basilaris) 6 Nurseries Carry This Plant Opuntia basilaris, the Beavertail Cactus, is found in southwest USA, mostly in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, and also in northwest Mexico. The Beavertail Cactus is a smaller prickly pear cactus growing about 60 centimeter tall. A single plant may consist of hundreds of fleshy, flattened pads. These are blue-gray, growing to a length of 14 centimeter and are maximum 10 centimeter wide and 1 to 1.5 centimeter thick. They are usually spineless, but have instead small barbed bristles, called glochids, that easily penetrate the skin and can be very irritating. During summer the pads become shriveled and wrinkled; with winter rain they plump out. The plant is not particularly attractive when not in flower, but the flowers make it worthwhile in any desert garden. The plant is not widely available in coastal nurseries but is more commonly available in specialty cactus or desert nurseries. The magenta flowers bloom from spring to early summer, often in profusion. It requires full sun, heat, and minimal water.

There are three recognized Varieties: Var. brachyclada (Short-joint Beavertail) is a rare plant endemic to the Transverse Range. Var. treleasei (Bakersfiled Cactus) is a very rare plant that has been nearly extirpated from the southern Central Valley by agriculture. It is listed by the state and federal agencies as Endangered.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Plant Type
Shrub, Succulent

Size
Size
1.3 - 2 ft tall
5 ft wide

Form
Form
Spreading

Growth Rate
Growth Rate
Slow

Dormancy
Dormancy
Evergreen

Fragrance
Fragrance
Slight

Flower Color
Flower Color
Pink, Purple, Red

Flowering Season
Flowering Season
Spring

Wildlife Supported
 
Insects are very attracted to the flowers when in bloom.

 
Butterflies & moths hosted ( 1 confirmed , 3 likely * ) SHOW ALL
Dyotopasta yumaella Image
Dyotopasta yumaellaDyotopasta yumaella
*
Pseudoschinia elautalis Image
Pseudoschinia elautalisPseudoschinia elautalis
*
Laetilia dilatifasciella Image
Laetilia dilatifasciellaLaetilia dilatifasciella
*
Dicymolomia opuntialis Image
Dicymolomia opuntialisDicymolomia opuntialis

Landscaping Information
Sun
Sun
Full Sun, Part Shade

Moisture
Moisture
Extremely Low, Very Low

Summer Irrigation
Summer Irrigation
Never irrigate once established

Nurseries
Nurseries

Ease of Care
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Cold Tolerance
Cold Tolerance
Tolerates cold to 0° F

Soil Drainage
Soil Drainage
Fast

Soil Description
Soil Description
Sandy or gravelly, decomposed granite or sandstone. Soil PH: 6.2 - 8.2

Common uses
Common uses
Hedges, Deer Resistant, Bird Gardens

Companion Plants
Companion Plants
This cactus can be used with a wide variety of other plants as long as drainage is fast and supplemental watering is minimized. Good companions could include Desert Agave (Agave deserti), Elephant Tree (Bursera microphylla), Desert Lavender (Condea emoryi), Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa or actonii), Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus), Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens), Chuparosa (Justicia californica), Palo Verde (Parkinsonia sp.), Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia), Mojave Yucca (Yucca shidigera), and numerous annuals

Maintenance
Maintenance
Pruning is generally not needed, although dead pads can be removed to maintain a neater appearance. Always were gloves when working on or around the plant

Propagation
Propagation?
For propagating by seed: No treatment.

Natural Setting
Site Type
Site Type
High and low desert, in sandy valley floors, alluvial fans, and rocky slopes and canyons

Climate
Climate
Annual Precipitation: 1.8" - 34.3", Summer Precipitation: 0.17" - 3.11", Coldest Month: 27.0" - 63.7", Hottest Month: 50.7" - 88.4", Humidity: 1.60" - 46.11", Elevation: 5" - 10095"

Alternative Names
Common Names: Beavertail Prickleypear, Nopal Del Castor


Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora


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