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Item ID: 29
Common Name: Santa-Rita Prickly Pear, Purple prickly pear
Habitat: Found native to desert areas, grasslands and Oak Woodlands at 2,500 to 5,500 feet elevation.
Range: Opuntia santa-rita can be found in southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, southwestern Texas, and in northern Sonora, Mexico.
Care: A very easy Opuntia to grow and maintain in and around Tucson. This cactus is very tolerant of the heat and dry conditions seen around southern Arizona. Rooted cuttings can easily produce a mature plant within several years with little effort or special care. This plant is well suited for a place in your sunny garden.
Propagation: This plant is easily propagated by stem cuttings and by seed.
Size: Mature specimens of this cactus can be at least 5 to 6 feet wide and over 5 feet in height.
Flowers: The flower color is a light lemon yellow and usually opens in the month of May.
Photo Courtesy of Vonn Watkins ©2003
The purple prickly pear is noted for the waxy bluish gray stem color and the purple colorings along the edges of the stems. It also has a distinct main trunk with numerous flat stems or pads. The name Opuntia violacea var. santa-rita was once used but now it is known as just Opuntia santa-rita.
This has been a favorite plant of mine for many years. I have easily grown it from seed and have always had several specimens in my garden. Often the stems will be seen infested with the Cochineal insect that is enclosed in a white web material. Removal of this insect can be done with soap and the spray from a garden hose. Please understand that this purple favorite should be happy in your garden today!
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