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Opuntia littoralis (Engelmann) Cockerell 1905

Coast prickly pear, sprawling prickly pear

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
SpecieslittoralisOf the seashore

About plant names...

The coastal prickly pear is a native of northern Baja California and southern California. It is a common sight in the Laguna Beach area.

Identification: These cacti are low 12-24″ (30-60 cm) and shrublike, and have some long, rigid spines, as well as short, hairlike spines called glochids. It is the short ones, which detach easily, that can be painful and difficult to remove. Stem segments are roughly oval in shape, 2½-12″ (7-30 cm) × 1¾-4″ (5-10 cm). Flowers are yellow or orange-yellow, sometimes with some red, sometimes red or shades of purple. See this Opuntia comparison table.

Opuntia littoralis (coast prickly pear, sprawling prickly pear)

Coastal prickly pear fruit, from the Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Berkeley, CA. By Stan Shebs.


Anderson, Edward F., The Cactus Family, Timber Press, 2001, p. 505

Online References:


The Natural History of Orange County, California

Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants


The Jepson Manual


Opuntia engelmannii var. littoralis Engelmann 1876

Opuntia semispinosa Griffiths 1916

Opuntia littoralis var. austrocalifornica L. D. Benson & Walkington 1965


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

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Opuntia littoralis (coast prickly pear, sprawling prickly pear)

2/26/2010 · Torrey Pines State Park, La Jolla, Cali­fornia · ≈ 15 × 10″ (38 × 25 cm)

Opuntia littoralis (coast prickly pear, sprawling prickly pear)

2/24/2010 · San Diego (Quail) Botanic Garden, Encinitas, Cali­fornia


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