Scientific: Opuntia macrocentra
Common: purple prickly pear
Family: Cactaceae
Origin: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas south into central Mexico.

Pronounciation: O-PUN-tee-a ma-crow-SIN-tra

Hardiness zones:
Sunset 13, 18-24
USDA 9-11

Landscape Use: Smaller accent or barrier cactus for desert style gardens, xeriscapes.

Form & Character: Dense, low growing shrubby cactus, rigid, dry, dangerous, colorful.

Growth Habit: Moderate growth rate, prostrate and spreading and many branched to 2 feet in height with significantly greater spread.

Foliage/texture: Stems of Opuntia are jointed into flattened sections called blades or pads which store water. Purple prickly pear pads are glaucous blue with a tinge of purple throughout the year (similar to Opuntia santa-rita), and are generously adorned with elongated, somewhat white spines at each aerole, occassionally blackened (as if singed in a fire), sometimes to 3 inches long; coarse texture.

Flowers & fruits: Flowers petals yellow with orange red centers; fruits reddish in late summer and fall.

Seasonal color: Consistently blooms in April to May.

Temperature: Hardy to 25oF.

Light: Full sun to partial shade.

Soil: Tolerant

Watering: Extremely drought tolerant, but an occasional summer soaking will keep pads flush.

Pruning: None is really needed, but if one must prune, then make sure to wear proper protective equipment (PPE) to avoid accidental injury caused by "spinal engagement".

Propagation: As with all Opuntia, purple prickly pear easily roots at the basal end of pads, seed (generally unnecessary).

Disease and pests: None (appears mostly resistant to Cochineal scale insects)

Additional comments: This is one diminutive, yet tough Opuntia for use in Phoenix landscapes.