Scientific: Opuntia rufida
Common: blind prickly pear, cow blinder
Family: Cactaceae
Origin: Rocky slopes and well drained sites in the Chihuahuan Desert of South Texas and northern Mexico from 1,500 to 4,000 feet in elevation.

Pronounciation: O-PUN-tee-a ru-FI-da

Hardiness zones:
Sunset 12-24
USDA 8-11

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

Character: Much branched individual stems upright, stiff, spreading, colorful.

Growth Habit: Upright and spreading, much branched, 4 to 5 feet in height with greater spread, moderately slow, occasionally arborescent.

Foliage/texture: Stems are jointed into fleshy, rounded clades (padded stems) that are various in color from lucid purple when young to glacous blue with age. Glochids densely arrayed at aeroles, greyish to reddish brown, rarely with spines; coarse texture.

Flowers & fruits: Flowers are a brilliant yellow changing to apricot or red with age, 3 to 4 inches across, are borne on upper terminal margins of pads; fruit oblong, 2 to 3 inches long, red to purple.

Seasonal color: A profusion of flowers during mid spring (April in Phoenix), fruit during summer.

Temperature: 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 cochineal scale.

Additional comments: Blind prickly pear is a very nice intermediate-sized and shrubby cactus for desert gardens. The prominent glochids of blind prickly pear are loosely attached and are prone to dislodge and fly into the air when these cacti are bumped or shaken. They get into animals' eyes and cause blindness. Hence the common name. The species rufida refers to the ruddy, reddish-brown glochids. O. rufida 'Desert Gem' is a dwarf selection that seldom grows more than 10 inches tall! The cultivar 'Minima Monstrose' is also a dwarf selection that is great choice for your desert container garden.