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Opuntia engelmannii Salm-Dyck ex Engelm.

Engelmann prickly pear, cactus apple

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassCaryophyllidaeCacti, many other succulents, carnivorous plants, and leadworts
OrderCaryophyllalesIncludes cacti, carnations, amaranths, ice plants, and many carnivorous plants
FamilyCactaceaeSucculent (water-storing) plants, often spiny
GenusOpuntiaPrickly pears
SpeciesengelmanniiAfter Georg(e) Engelmann (1809-1884), a German-born St. Louis physician and botanist, and prolific author on cacti, North American conifers and oaks

About plant names...

Engelmann's prickly pear is native to North American deserts, at elevations between 1000-4500′ (304-1371 m).

Identification: 3-10′ (91-304 cm) high, in clumps up to 15′ (4.6 m) wide. Thick pads are oval or rounded. Flowers are yellow to red. Fruit is barrel-shaped, with very short spines or no spines. Spines are chalky white, sometimes yellow. I couldn't find any significant differences between this species and the variety called Tuna Cactus. See this Opuntia comparison table.

Online References:

George and Audrey DeLange's Arizona wildflower site

as Compiled by the Master Gardeners of the University of Arizona Pima County Cooperative Extension


Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and the Plants of the Sonoran Desert


The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center




Bowers, Nora and Rick; Tekiela, Stan, Cactus of Arizona Field Guide, Adventure Publications Inc., 2008, p. 151

Opuntia engelmannii (Engelmann prickly pear, cactus apple)

5/24/2009 · Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, Ari­zona · ≈ 8 × 5″ (19 × 13 cm)

Opuntia engelmannii (Engelmann prickly pear, cactus apple)

2/26/2010 · Torrey Pines State Park, La Jolla, Cali­fornia · ≈ 12 × 8″ (29 × 19 cm) ID is uncertain


Opuntia engelmannii description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Opuntia engelmannii (Engelmann prickly pear, cactus apple)

2/27/1998 · Antigua ID is uncertain

Opuntia engelmannii (Engelmann prickly pear, cactus apple)

Closed due to Killer Bees · 5/25/2009 · Tonto National Monument, Ari­zona · ≈ 4 × 2½″ (11 × 7.3 cm) ID is uncertain

Opuntia engelmannii (Engelmann prickly pear, cactus apple)

2/24/2010 · Batiquitos Lagoon, Carlsbad, Cali­fornia ID is uncertain


About this map...