Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Creeping Beavertail, Yellow Beavertail
Opuntia aurea

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Opuntia (op-UN-shee-a) (Info)
Species: aurea (AW-re-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Opuntia lubrica var. aurea
Synonym:Opuntia erinacea var. aurea
Synonym:Opuntia basilaris var. aurea

8 members have or want this plant for trade.

Cactus and Succulents

under 6 in. (15 cm)
6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings
From softwood cuttings
Allow cut surface to callous over before planting
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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3 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Peterthecactusguy On Apr 28, 2012, Peterthecactusguy from Black Canyon City, AZ wrote:

This plant is native to Southern Utah and perhaps into parts of Northern Arizona. I have a pink flowering one that was sent to me by a gardener in Nevada. It grows well here in Arizona. It has glochids and spines. It's worth the glochids to get the bright pink/purplish flower. It hybridizes well with O. engelmannii creating a red flowered hybrid. I have yet to breed them, I had one flower this year, I will be getting some more plants from someone in Utah to increase my chances.

I love Opuntia for their form and their flowers. Yes they have glochids. They hurt. But at the same time I will brave them all and let Opuntia take over my yard for when they have flowers.

Positive ogon On Jun 24, 2011, ogon from Paradise, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Very cold tolerant. I found it growing with a thin covering of snow and ice in Zion Park, Utah. I can't attest to the flowers as it was January and not in bloom, but it was everywhere and very pretty in its natural setting.

Positive beckstrommarc On Oct 23, 2010, beckstrommarc from Livermore, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Another syn. for Opuntia aurea is (syn. Opuntia basilaris var. woodburyi), as a variety of O. basilaris, its publication was never official excepted.

Neutral Baa On May 7, 2006, Baa wrote:

Magenta flowers may occur in this species through introgression.

Neutral Xenomorf On Sep 4, 2004, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

From Utah. Spineless, but still has glochids.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Black Canyon City, Arizona
Bostonia, California
Livermore, California
Paradise, California
Raleigh, North Carolina
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Springdale, Utah

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