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Scientific: Opuntia aciculata (Synonyms: Opuntia lindheimeri var. aciculata, Opuntia engelmannii var. aciculata)
Common: red flower pricklypear cactus, Chenille cactus
Family: Cactaceae
Origin: Texas south into arid portions of Chihuahua and Coahuila, Mexico

Pronounciation: O-PUN-tee-a a-sic-u-LA-ta

Hardiness zones:
Sunset 8-24
USDA 8-12

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

Character: Robust, upright, stiff, cuddly and fuzzy, but 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 wide 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

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 and some cochineal scale.

Additional comments: Red flower prickly pear is a texturally interesting shrubby cactus with a unique arrangement of glochids. It is an excellent, very nice 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.