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Purple Prickly Pear, Red-joint Prickly Pear, Longspine Prickly Pear
Opuntia macrocentra (O. violaceae var. macrocentra)


Purple prickly pear inhabits the well-draining desert slopes and rocky or sandy flats at 2000 to 5000 feet of elevation, from West Texas to New Mexico and Eastern Arizona. It is shrubby with upright branches composed of thin bluish joints or pads, always tinged reddish-purple by beta cyanin pigments. The joints, which occasionally may be broader than long, usually bear brown or black spines which are round in cross section. Spines are on the sides and along the margins. Macrocentra refers to the very long central spine on each of the uppermost areoles. There are occasional spineless purple prickly pears. The glochids (little barbed hairs or bristles) are 1/8 to 1/4 inch long. Yellow flowers with bright red centers, and purple to red, edible spineless fruit enhance the bluish or reddish-purple pads, resulting in a very showy and interesting ornamental worthy of cultivation.

Plant Habit or Use: small shrub

Exposure: sun

Flower Color: yellow with bright red centers

Blooming Period: spring

Fruit Characteristics: red to purplish red, fleshy

Height: 1.5 to 3 feet

Width: 2 to 3 feet

Plant Character: evergreen

Heat Tolerance: very high

Water Requirements:

Soil Requirements: neutral

USDA Hardiness Zone:

Additional Comments:

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