brittle prickly pear

(Opuntia fragilis)

Conservation Status
brittle prickly pear
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

     
  NatureServe

N4N5 - Apparently Secure to Secure

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Brittle prickly pear 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.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

2 to 4

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

Yellow to greenish

 
     
 

Similar Species

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

Dry. Prairies.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

May to July

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 28.

 
  1/7/2012      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

 

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Subclass Caryophyllidae  
  Superorder Caryophyllanae  
 

Order

Caryophyllales (pinks, cactuses, and allies)  
 

Family

Cactaceae (cactus)  
  Subfamily Opuntioideae  
  Tribe Opuntieae  
 

Genus

Opuntia (prickly pear)  
       
 

 

 
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

 

 
       
 

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    
       
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
   

Plant

  brittle prickly pear   brittle prickly pear
       
  brittle prickly pear    
       

Young Joints

  brittle prickly pear    
       

Mature Joint

  brittle prickly pear    
       

Fruit

  brittle prickly pear    
       
       

 

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Slideshows
 
 
     
     
     

 

slideshow

       
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Visitor Sightings
   

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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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