GROWTH HABIT: Perennial forming low, spreading, fleshly plants, commonly in clumps but can be erect to 3 feet or more in height, reproducing from stems or seeds.
LEAVES: Leaves are small and scale-like on young branches, dropping early.
STEMS: Stems are flat and jointed, spines 4/5 to 1-1/5 inches long, pale or brownish with around 9 per group.
FLOWER: Flowers are large; calyx tube does not extend beyond ovary; petals numerous, 1-1/2 to 2 inches long, slightly united; stamens numerous in several rows. The fruit is a pear-shaped berry either juicy or dry, often spiny.
SEEDS: Seeds are numerous, 2/10 to 3/10 inch long, white and flattened. There are numerous species of Opuntia in the West.
OTHER: Pricklypear is a native plant commonly found on dry, sandy soils. It can be troublesome on overgrazed pastures and rangelands. Herbicides effectively control these species.