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What is Beavertail Cactus (Opuntia basilaris)

What is Beavertail Cactus

Beavertail Cactus Overview

Opuntia basilaris, the beavertail cactus or beavertail prickly pear, is a medium-sized to small prickly pear cactus species found in the southwest United States with pink to rose-colored flowers.

A single plant may consist of hundreds of fleshy, flattened pads.

They are typically spineless, but have instead many small barbed bristles, called glochids, that easily penetrate the skin.

Each areole supports many glochids but is usually without spines.

Opuntia basilaris blooms from spring to early summer.

RELATED ARTICLE >> How to Remove Cactus Spines


  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Clade: Tracheophytes
  • Clade: Angiosperms
  • Clade: Eudicots
  • Order: Caryophyllales
  • Family: Cactaceae
  • Genus: Opuntia
  • Species: O. basilaris

Beavertail Cactus Height

2.8 to 15.7 inches (15 to 30 cm)

Water Sources for the Beavertail Cactus

Surface water.

Habitat and Range

It occurs mostly in the Mojave, Anza-Borrego, and Colorado Deserts, as well as in the Colorado Plateau and northwest Mexico.

It is also found throughout the Grand Canyon and Colorado River region as well as into southern Utah and Nevada, and in the western Arizona regions along the Lower Colorado River Valley in well-drained soil, gravelly sand, and rocky outcrops from 200′ – 3,000′.


Wind, insects, animals

Photos and Videos

Beavertail Cactus

What is Beavertail Cactus

Below is a transcription of the above sign found at the Valley of Fire Visitor Center.

Beavertail Cactus – Opuntia basilaris


Creosote Bush Scrub


Flat, wide pads with thick “skin” to hold moisture.

Pads covered with tiny, hair-like spines.


Be careful of this cactus, as the tiny spines work into the skin and are very difficult to see and remove.

Cactus fruits and pads are important food for many desert animals, especially woodrat and jackrabbit.

Indians cook both fruits and pads after removing their spines.

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What is Beavertail Cactus