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Beavertail Cactus
Scientific Name: Opuntia basilaris Engelm. & Bigelow
Synonym: Opuntia longiareolata, Opuntia basilaris ssp. whitneyana, Opuntia whitneyana, Opuntia basilaris var. whitneyana, Opuntia basilaris var. treleasii, Opuntia treleasii, Opuntia basilaris var. ramosa, Opuntia brachyclada ssp. humistrata, Opuntia humistrata, Opuntia basilaris var. humistrata, Opuntia basilaris var. heilii, Opuntia brachyclada, Opuntia basilaris var. brachyclada, Opuntia basilaris var. longiareolata
Family: Cactaceae
Beavertail Cactus (Opuntia  basilaris) Recommended Temperature Zone:
sunset: 8,9, 10-24
USDA: 7-10

Frost Tolerance: Hardy to 0F (-18C)

Sun Exposure: Full sun

Origin: Southwest USA (Arizona, California, Nevada) from 200 to 3000 feet elevation (60 to 900 m), northwestern Mexico (northern Baja California and northern Sonora)

Growth Habits: Succulent to 2 feet tall (60 cm), 4 feet spread (1.2 m); green or slighly purplish segments 3.2 to 5.6 inches long (8-14 cm), 1.6 to 4 inches wide (4-10 cm), glabrous or slightly pubescent; slightly pleated during the dry season; areoles, many with white or brown wool and brownish glochids; occasional spine in the upper areoles, or spineless.

Watering Needs: little or no water once established, in its natural distribution area, it receives mostly winter rains.

Propagation: Cuttings


The Beaver-tail Cactus is a smaller prickly pear cactus, and it will often start blooming when it has only two pads. Beware that the glochids (these little barbed bristles organized in clusters) can penetrate the skin.
In the wild, its principal range is limited to the Mojave-Colorado desert.

Beavertail Cactus (Opuntia  basilaris)

Blooming Habits:
The beaver tail cactus has 2.6-3 inches wide (6-7 cm), fuschia colored flowers in March-April. The spineless fruit is dry when ripe. The seeds are 0.24 to 0.4 inch in diameter (6-10 mm)

Fruiting Habits:
The fruits can be cooked, as well as the pads.

Check for Field Collection numbers at Ralph Martin's Site


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