Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Delicate Prickly Pear, Plains Prickly Pear, Starvation Prickly Pear, Tuberous-Rooted Prickly Pear
Opuntia macrorhiza

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Opuntia (op-UN-shee-a) (Info)
Species: macrorhiza (mak-roh-RY-zuh) (Info)

Synonym:Opuntia macrorhiza var. macrorhiza
Synonym:Opuntia sphaerocarpa
Synonym:Opuntia tenuispina
Synonym:Opuntia ballii
Synonym:Opuntia delicata

One vendor has this plant for sale.

8 members have or want this plant for trade.

Cactus and Succulents

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

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
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)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade

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

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
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
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
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive glochid15 On Jan 18, 2011, glochid15 from Parsons, KS (Zone 6b) wrote:

In the wild, certain characteristics vary from plant to plant. Some almost completely spineless forms have been reported, which are often confused with Opuntia humifusa. O. humifusa usually does not have the red flower throat of O. macrorhiza, though. It is one of the most common species of prickly pear in america; found in almost every state. It is very easy to care for in the garden, and is easily propagated by cuttings.

Positive dave12122 On Dec 27, 2010, dave12122 from East Haddam, CT wrote:

Probably the easiest hardy Opuntia to grow in the East, tolerating almost any abuse except total shade. However, the plants are extremely difficult to handle because of the numerous glochids and spines. USE GLOVES!!!

Positive imcuban2 On May 12, 2008, imcuban2 from Chicago, IL wrote:

I have these in the ground. The ones I have are big and beefy, with a slight powdery dull look to the. Winter doesnt faze them. The

Neutral Xenomorf On Dec 2, 2004, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

Another synonym of this plant is Opuntia compressa var. macrorhiza.

Naturally found in the southwestern and midwestern U.S.
The spines and pads are used medicinally.
The 'macrorhiza' variety has a less waxy, dull appearance than the 'pottsii' variety.
The pads on the 'macrorhiza' variety are larger up to 4 inches in length, while the pads of the 'pottsii' variety only reach 2.5 inches in length.
The 'macrorhiza' variety has only basically yellow flowers with red bases, and the 'pottsii' variety has the more reddish flowers.
The 'macrorhiza' variety is the most prevalent in the wild.


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

Chandler, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Bostonia, California
East Haddam, Connecticut
Chicago, Illinois
Parsons, Kansas
Rolla, Kansas
Concord, North Carolina
Bucyrus, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Lima, Ohio
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Clearfield, Pennsylvania
Norwood, Pennsylvania
Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas
Broaddus, Texas
Dodd City, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Lometa, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Santa Fe, Texas
Whitesboro, Texas
Leesburg, Virginia
Great Cacapon, West Virginia

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