Home
Advanced Search Map Locator
View Settings
Nurseries Carrying this Plant Add Current Plant To List Edit Current Plant
Show all Photos

Butterflies Garden Planner My Plant Lists Nurseries Planting Guide Contact Calscape About Calscape
Tap map to see plants native to location
Order by Popularity Order by Common Name Order by Scientific Name Order by # of Butterflies Hosted
Show nursery cultivars Hide nursery cultivars
Show plants not in nurseries Hide plants not in nurseries
Grid view Text view
Loading....
Plains Pricklypear
Opuntia polyacantha
  
About Plains Pricklypear (Opuntia polyacantha) 5 Nurseries Carry This Plant Opuntia polyacantha is a common species of cactus known by the common names plains pricklypear, hairspine cactus, panhandle pricklypear, and starvation pricklypear. It is native to North America, where it is widespread in Western Canada, the Great Plains, the central and Western United States, and Chihuahua in northern Mexico. This cactus grows in a wide variety of habitat types, including sagebrush, Ponderosa pine forest, prairie, savanna, shrublands, shrubsteppe, chaparral, pinyon-juniper woodland, and scrub. Opuntia polyacantha grows up to 40 centimetres (16 in) tall. It forms low mats of pads which may be 2-3 metres (6. 6-9. 8 ft) wide. Its succulent green pads are oval or circular and reach 27 by 18 centimetres (10. 6 by 7. 1 in) wide. Its areoles are tipped with woolly brown fibers and glochids. Many of the areoles have spines which are quite variable in size and shape. They may be 0. 4 to 18. 5 centimetres (0. 16 to 7. 28 in) in length, stout or thin, straight or curling, and any of a variety of colors. The flowers are 2. 5 to 4 centimetres (0. 98 to 1. 57 in) long and may be yellow or magenta in color. The fruit is cylindrical, brownish, dry and spiny. The cactus reproduces by seed, by layering, and by resprouting from detached segments. Uses. Native Americans used it as a medicinal plant, with different parts treating various symptoms. This pricklypear provides food for many types of animals. It provides over half the winter food for the black-tailed prairie dog in one area. Pronghorn deer eat it, especially after the spines are burned off in wildfires. Ranchers intentionally burn stands of the plant to make it palatable for livestock when little other food is available. It will also grow in waste areas where good forage will not take hold. In fact, an abundance of the cactus indicates land that is poor in quality. Several insects attack the cactus, including the cactus moth Melitara dentata, the blue cactus borer Olycella subumbrella, and the cactus bug Chelinidea vittiger.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Plant Type
Shrub, Succulent

Size
Size
1.3 - 2 ft tall

Form
Form
Mounding

Growth Rate
Growth Rate
Fast

Flower Color
Flower Color
Yellow

Flowering Season
Flowering Season
Spring

Wildlife Supported
 


 
Butterflies & moths hosted ( 2 likely * ) SHOW ALL
*
Dyotopasta yumaella Image
Dyotopasta yumaellaDyotopasta yumaella
*
Laetilia dilatifasciella Image
Laetilia dilatifasciellaLaetilia dilatifasciella

Landscaping Information
Nurseries
Nurseries

Soil Description
Soil Description
Adaptable, tolerant of sand, loam and clay

Common uses
Common uses
Deer Resistant, Bird Gardens

Natural Setting
Climate
Climate
Annual Precipitation: 6.0" - 45.6", Summer Precipitation: 0.43" - 3.53", Coldest Month: 25.3" - 56.0", Hottest Month: 46.8" - 82.6", Humidity: 1.18" - 35.66", Elevation: 2129" - 10398"

Alternative Names
Common Names: Hairspine Cactus, Panhandle Pricklypear, Starvation Pricklypear


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


Sign in to your Calscape Account X




Once signed in, you'll be able to access any previously saved plant lists or create new ones.

Email Address
Password

Sign In