What’s Under the Opuntia?

After posting on a grouping of Opuntia camanchica in a suburban landscape, I saw a specimen Opuntia macrocentra, while finishing a site inventory for clients at their valley house – 3/11/2014.

Perfect to show subtle differences between two different cacti for gardens. But upon a closer look…

Opuntia_mac Agave pups-LosRanchos01-SML
see anything?

Opuntia macrocentra / Purple or Blackspine Prickly Pear is native on dry, gravelly hills in the Chihuahuan Desert, but it appreciates richer clay loam soils, too.

The purple color comes out in colder weather, but even in the growing season, the pads turn a pale green with subtle hints of purple. Perfect for yellow walls or brighter backgrounds, it’s more compact in scale for smaller spaces, and it offers winter color.

At first, it looked like new green leaves sprouting at the base of the Opuntia – some weedy, herbaceous growth seen in early spring.

Opuntia_mac Agave pups-LosRanchos02-SML
Agave parryi (?) pups galore

Too bad I was unable to liberate any agave pups or cactus cuttings, for the more discerning garden bloggers in places like Portland or San Antonio…

Opuntia_mac Agave pups-LosRanchos03-SML
and the Opuntia macrocentra isn’t bad…3″+ long spines

5 Replies to “What’s Under the Opuntia?”

  1. We have the Blackspine (outside and inside) just south of Santa Fe, NM at 6200′ (zone 6) which is a bit out of it’s range. Unfortunately pack rats are decimating it. And I agree the flower is quite nice.

    Though not too far – the coldest place I’ve seen it in the wild is near Corona NM. Pack rats really kill cacti without other moisture…glad to hear from you. Enjoying your blog, too!


  2. Whoa… mama opuntia is fiercely protecting her adopted babies!!!!!

    That looks cool…and ouchie…

    Great analogy, mother modern in SA! The color almost looks photoshopped, but all real.


  3. Opuntia macrocentra also has lots of pretty yellow flowers with bright red centers. One of our best prickly pears for landscaping in my humble opinion.

    You’re right, and its tough, though I see it often. One off Tramway, that I submitted a cutting and record of to the UNM herbarium, is still there.


  4. That is too bad…you could have taken a nice vacation with the revenue sales could generate without taking the entirety of either clump. Perhaps a word with your client and a pop-up nursery is in order!

    I know, I know! That was among the most dense stands of agave pups I’ve seen. Hmmm, pop-up nursery…


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