Santa Rita Prickly Pear is native to Texas, Arizona, and northern Mexico.
Identification: This cactus usually has distinctive purple
coloring. Pads are 4-8" (10-20 cm), tinged with purple; turning entirely purple when very dry. Spineless, or pink or reddish spines less than 1½" (3.8 cm) long. There are also tiny reddish-brown, loosely attached spines called glochids, which are irritating and difficult to remove. Flowers are lemon yellow, becoming more orange as they age. Flowers occur on tops of pads.
Fruit is barrel-shaped, smooth, about 1" (2.5 cm) x 1½" (3.8 cm).
Cochineal insects (Dactylopius confusus) attack prickly pear cacti, leaving a whitish,
wool-like substance behind. Although these insects are regarded as annoyances today, they were
a source of brilliant red dye to the Aztecs.
Opuntia santa-rita at Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and the Plants of the Sonoran Desert