PLAINS PRICKLY PEAR
File Size: 117 KB
 
Opuntia macrorhiza  Engelm.
Cheyenne County, Kansas
Perennial
Height: Up to 6 inches
Family: Cactaceae - Cactus Family
Flowering Period:   May, June
Stems: Prostrate or erect, circular to egg-shaped, 2-5 inches long, 2-4 inches wide, flattened, bluish green, waxy.
Leaves: Leaves absent. Pad-like stem segments with 1-6 spines per areole; spines 2 inches long or more, straight or sometimes twisted, not barbed, often only on uppermost areoles; bristles abundant, tiny, yellowish brown, barbed, at bases of spines.
Inflorescences: 1 to several flowers, sessile on margins of pads.
Flowers: Showy, broadly funnel-shaped, 2-3 inches wide, yellow to copper, centers sometimes reddish; stamens numerous, filaments yellow or reddish.
Fruits: Berries, fleshy, globe- to egg-shaped, 1-3 inches long, red or purple, not spiny; seeds numerous, disk-shaped, flattened, tan to white.
Habitat: Dry rocky prairies, hillsides, and overgrazed pastures.
Distribution: Throughout Kansas.
Forage Value: Prickly pear has been used in the past as an emergency livestock feed after the spines have been burned off.
Uses: In times of food shortage, Native Americans ate the raw or stewed fruit. Wildlife such as deer, jackrabbits, and turtles eat the fruits and help spread the seeds.
Comments: Prickly pear endures drought well due to its succulent pads and extensive root system. It increases during dry periods and decreases when conditions favor the growth of grasses.

Plains prickly pear flower
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Cheyenne County, Kansas
Plains prickly pear
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Cheyenne County, Kansas
Plains prickly pear flower
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Cheyenne County, Kansas
Plains prickly pear
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Cheyenne County, Kansas
Plains prickly pear
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Russell County, Kansas
Plains prickly pear flower
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Russell County, Kansas
Plains prickly pear flowers
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Russell County, Kansas
Plains prickly pear spines
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Russell County, Kansas
Plains prickly pear
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Russell County, Kansas
Plains prickly pear flower
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Cimarron National Grassland, Morton County, Kansas
Plains prickly pear flower
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Cimarron National Grassland, Morton County, Kansas
Plains prickly pear
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Cimarron National Grassland, Morton County, Kansas
Plains prickly pear
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Cimarron National Grassland, Morton County, Kansas
Plains prickly pear
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Cimarron National Grassland, Morton County, Kansas
Plains prickly pear
124 KB
Cimarron National Grassland, Morton County, Kansas