aciculata (Synonyms: Opuntia lindheimeri var. aciculata, Opuntia engelmannii var. aciculata)
Common: red flower pricklypear cactus, Chenille cactus
Origin: Texas south into arid portions of Chihuahua and Coahuila, Mexico
Pronounciation: O-PUN-tee-a a-sic-u-LA-ta
Character: Stiff cuddly and fuzzy, deceptively dangerous, arid
Growth Habit: Succulent perennial, somewhat upright and spreading to 3 feet tall with generally a 4 feet spread when mature, growth rate is moderately slow.
Foliage/Texture: Stems are jointed into circular fleshy greenish pads. Pads are uniquely covered with areoles containing a dense array of brown glochids and no spines, small new pads in spring occassionally grow ephemeral cone-like leaves; coarse texture.
Flowers/Fruits: Flower buds emerge from aeroles at the edges of stem clades, mature flowers are a brilliant apricot vermillion color, 2 to 3 inches across and 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: Highly tolerant of desert heat.
Light: Full sun
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 and some cochineal scale.Additional comments: Red flower prickly pear is an excellent very nice spreading cactus for small to medium size formal desert cactus gardens.
Taxonomic tibdbit: The species name aciculata comes from the latin for "covered with small pins" (that were used for head dresses) - referring to the conspicuous glochids.