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Beavertail Prickly Pear Cactus

Opuntia basilaris

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Beavertail Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia basilaris) at Roger's Gardens

Beavertail Prickly Pear Cactus

Beavertail Prickly Pear Cactus

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height:  24 inches

Spread:  4 feet

Sunlight:  full sun 

Hardiness Zone:  6b

Other Names:  O. whitneyana, O. treleasii, O. humistrata


Interesting oval, gray-green pads are blushed with purple; vibrant fuchsia flowers in spring; the pads are mostly spineless with some near the top but the pads are protected by dark-brown glochids which will penetrate the skin; this plant is edible

Ornamental Features

Beavertail Prickly Pear Cactus features showy fuchsia flowers with yellow centers at the ends of the stems in early spring. Its attractive succulent oval leaves remain grayish green in color with hints of purple throughout the year. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.

Landscape Attributes

Beavertail Prickly Pear Cactus is an herbaceous evergreen perennial with a ground-hugging habit of growth. Its relatively coarse texture can be used to stand it apart from other garden plants with finer foliage.

This plant will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and should never be pruned except to remove any dieback, as it tends not to take pruning well. Deer don't particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;

  • Spiny

Beavertail Prickly Pear Cactus is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Accent
  • Mass Planting
  • Rock/Alpine Gardens
  • General Garden Use
  • Naturalizing And Woodland Gardens
  • Container Planting

Planting & Growing

Beavertail Prickly Pear Cactus will grow to be about 24 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 4 feet. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 5 years.

This plant should only be grown in full sunlight. It requires an extremely dry, well-drained growing location, and will usually die in standing water. It is considered to be drought-tolerant, and thus makes an ideal choice for a low-water garden or xeriscape application. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in sandy soils. It is quite intolerant of urban pollution, therefore inner city or urban streetside plantings are best avoided. This species is native to parts of North America.

Beavertail Prickly Pear Cactus is a fine choice for the garden, but it is also a good selection for planting in outdoor pots and containers. Because of its spreading habit of growth, it is ideally suited for use as a 'spiller' in the 'spiller-thriller-filler' container combination; plant it near the edges where it can spill gracefully over the pot. It is even sizeable enough that it can be grown alone in a suitable container. Note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.

Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight
Accent  Massing  Rock  Garden  Naturalizing  Container 
Flowers  Foliage Color  Texture 
Ornamental Features