Scientific: Opuntia basilaris
Common: beavertail cactus
Family: Cactaceae
Origin: Sonoran and Mojave Deserts of the southwestern Unites States (Nevada, California, Arizona) and northwest Mexico (Baja California and Sonora) at elevations below 3,000 feet in elevation.

Pronounciation: O-PUN-tee-a ba-si-LAR-is

Hardiness zones:
Sunset 8, 9, 10-24
USDA 7-10

Landscape Use: Cactus rock garden, ground cover, accent plant for small to medium sized desert landscape areas

Character: Much branched and prostrate with individual stems upright, stiff

Growth Habit: Mounding and spreading to 2 feet tall with generally a 4 feet spread when mature, growth rate is moderately slow.

Foliage/texture: Stems are jointed into fleshy pads that are curiously thickened and shaped like a beaver's tail to 2 feet long. Usually stems are glaucous with areoles containing glochids (white to brown) and no spines, pads are occasionally pleated when drought stressed; coarse texture.

Flowers & fruits: Flowers are a brilliant magenta pink in spring, 3 to 4 inches across, are borne on upper terminal margins of pads; fruit oblong, 2 to 3 inches long, red to purple, edible

Seasonal color: A profusion of flowers in mid spring, fruit in summer

Temperature: Higly tolerant of desert heat

Light: Full sun

Soil: Tolerant

Watering: None after established

Pruning: Prune by removing pad segments of any length to control spread

Propagation: Cutting and dispersal of pads

Disease and pests: Root rot, cochineal scale

Additional comments: Beavertail cactus is a very nice spreading cactus for small to medium size formal desert cactus gardens. Here is a fascinating hybrid cross of Opuntia santa rita and Opuntia basilaris. Someone please pluck off a pad of this for my yard!