Large cactus to 2.5 m (8 ft) tall. Stem segments dark green, cylindrical, to 35 cm (14 in) long and 3 cm (1.2 in) thick, with prominent tubercles. Spines red to pink, barbed. Central 1-8 spines about 3 cm (1.2 in) long, loosely held by a tan sheath. Radial spines tightly sheathed, about 1 cm (0.4 in) long. Glochids about 1 mm (0.04 in) long. Flowers pink to purple, to 5 cm (2 in) long, blooming in late spring or early summer. Fruits yellowish, to 4 cm (1.6 in) long, globose, tuberculate.
Distribution: Western Kansas south and west to Mexico and Arizona.
Habitat: Sandy or gravelly areas in the arid plains.
NWI status: none
Comment: The specimens from Grady and Jackson Counties are probably escapes from cultivation. Opuntia is a reference to some plant that grew in the Greek town of Opus; imbricata refers to the overlapping ridges of the joints.
Distribution in Oklahoma:
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Last update: 9/14/99
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