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Purple Prickly Pear

Purple Prickly Pear

Regular price $29.70 USD
Regular price Sale price $29.70 USD
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Plant Type: Cacti
Plant Height: 2-3 feet
Spread: 3-5 feet
Flower Color: yellow, sometimes with red or orange centers
Sun Exposure: Full Sun, Partial Shade


The Purple Prickly Pear, scientifically known as Opuntia santa-rita, is a striking variety of prickly pear cactus known for its distinctive purple-tinged pads. This cactus is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, particularly thriving in desert and arid environments.

The Purple Prickly Pear typically grows to about 2 to 3 feet in height and spreads 3 to 5 feet wide. The plant forms clumps of broad, flat pads that are a blue-green color under normal conditions. However, the pads can turn a vibrant shade of purple, especially during cold weather or when the plant is stressed, such as during drought conditions. The pads are covered with clusters of small spines and tiny, hair-like glochids that can be irritating to the skin.

In spring and early summer, the Purple Prickly Pear produces large, showy yellow flowers, which sometimes have red or orange centers. These flowers are followed by edible, reddish-purple fruits that are popular in traditional and contemporary cuisine.

This cactus thrives in full sun but can tolerate some partial shade. It prefers well-draining soil and is highly drought-tolerant, making it an excellent choice for xeriscaping, rock gardens, and desert landscaping. The Purple Prickly Pear is also popular in native plant gardens and wildlife gardens, as its flowers attract pollinators and its fruits provide food for birds and other wildlife.

In addition to its ornamental use, the pads (nopales) of the Purple Prickly Pear are edible and used in various culinary dishes, although care must be taken to remove the glochids.

Overall, the Purple Prickly Pear is a low-maintenance and visually appealing cactus, perfect for adding a touch of color to any garden. Its unique purple pads, bright flowers, and edible fruits make it a favorite among gardeners and cactus enthusiasts alike.

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