brittle prickly pear

(Opuntia fragilis)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

brittle prickly pear

NatureServe

N4N5 - Apparently Secure to Secure

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Nativity

Native

Occurrence

 

Habitat

Dry. Prairies.

Flowering

May to July

     
Flower Color

Yellow to greenish

     
Height

2 to 4

     

Identification

This is a prostrate or spreading, perennial, succulent shrub. It forms dense mats 2 to 4 tall and up to 20 wide. It flowers infrequently, if at all.

The stems are prostrate or spreading, branched, and jointed.

The stem segments (joints) are dark green, very swollen, hairless, ¾ to 2 long, to 1 wide, and variable in shape. They may be almost circular to almost cone-shaped, or egg-shaped and slightly flattened. The terminal joint on each stem is easily detached.

The areoles are densely woolly and crowded. They are armed with 1 to 4 central, ½ to 1 long, gray spines with brown tips, and 4 to 6 outer, smaller spines. Most areoles have a total of 3 to 8 spines.

The glochids are tan to brown, inconspicuous, up to long, in a crescent at the upper margin of the areole.

The inflorescence is a solitary, 19 16 to 2 wide, yellow to greenish flower.

The fruit is a pear-shaped, to 1¼ long, 5 16 to wide berry. It is greenish to reddish and fleshy when young, tan and dry at maturity. It is inedible.

 
Similar
Species

Plains prickly pear (Opuntia macrohiza) has conspicuously flattened pads.


Distribution Distribution Map   Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 28.

Comments

 


Taxonomy

Family:

Cactaceae (cactus)

 

Subfamily:

Opuntioideae

 

Tribe:

Opuntieae

 
Synonyms

 

 
Common
Names

brittle cactus

brittle prickly pear

brittle prickly-pear

brittle pricklypear

fragile cactus

fragile prickly pear

 

fragile prickly-pear

jumping cactus

little prickly pear

little pricklypear

pygmy prickly-pear

pygmy-tuna


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Areole

A woolly, hairy, or cushion-like structure, unique to cacti, from which arise spines or glochids.

 

Glochid

A small, barbed or hooked hair or bristle on a cactus.

 

Succulent

Having thick leaves, stems, or roots that store water. Succulent tissues appear fleshy externally and juicy internally.

       

Visitor Photos

   
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Lynn Rubey


Brittle Prickly Pear Cacti in The Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge on the granite outcroppings.

  brittle prickly pear    

       
       
       

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  brittle prickly pear   brittle prickly pear
       
  brittle prickly pear    
       

Young Joints

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Mature Joint

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Fruit

  brittle prickly pear    
       
       

 

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Lynn Rubey
6/22/2019

Location: Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge

Brittle Prickly Pear Cacti in The Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge on the granite outcroppings.

brittle prickly pear


     
     
 

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