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Opuntia Species, Big Root Prickly Pear, Delicate Prickly Pear, Plains 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 cymochila
Synonym:Opuntia mackensenii
Synonym:Opuntia tortispina



Cactus and Succulents

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

12-18 in. (30-45 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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


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

Bloom Color:


Bright Yellow

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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


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

Himrod, New York

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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


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.


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!!!


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


On Dec 2, 2004, Xenomorf from Phoenix, 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.