These cacti are found only in the southern part of Utah and northern Arizona, where they are native
and often quite abundant.
Identification: These plants are low—4-12" (10-30 cm)—lying on or growing close to the
ground. The stem segments are ellipse- or egg-shaped, 1¾-4" (5-10 cm) × 1-2" (3-6 cm) across.
The glochids, tiny hairlike clusters of needles, are tan or brown, and ⅛" (3 mm) long.
Spines are absent, though varying degrees of introgression—natural hybridization—have produced plants that often have
spines, especially along the outer edges of the stem segments.
Flowers are yellow or pink, and 1¾-3" (5-7.5 cm) in size. Fruits are ½-⅞" (1.5-2.5 cm) in diameter, green, lacking spines. See this Opuntia comparison table.
By Howard Cheng. This picture was probably taken at the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden, because the cactus is not found in the wild in California. The photo is identified as Opuntia basilaris var. aurea, but the more recently accepted name is Opuntia aurea.