Scientific: Opuntia aciculata (synonyms are Opuntia lindheimeri var. aciculata, Opuntia engelmannii var. aciculata)
Common: red flower prickly pear cactus of Chenille cactus
Family: Cactaceae
Origin: Texas south into Chihuahuan Deserts

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: Stiff cuddly and fuzzy, deceptive

Growth Habit: 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 contain ephemeral cone-like leaves; coarse texture.

Flowers/fruits: 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

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 an excellent very nice spreading cactus for small to medium size formal desert cactus gardens. The species name aciculata comes from the latin for "covered with small pins" (that were used for headdresses) - referring to the conspicuous glochids.