Opuntia macrorhiza, one of the most geographically widespread prickly pears in the US, forms large, low clumps many feet across, often partly covered by bushes or long grass. Pads are greenish blue, and medium sized, up to 6 inches long, bearing 1 to 6 spines per areole, mostly pointing downwards. The attractive orange or yellow flowers appear May to July, followed by red fruits in late summer. In winter the pads may shrink and become wrinkled as the water content decreases, but soon return to normal during spring. The wide distribution is due to good frost tolerance, and the cactus is even found as far north as British Columbia, Canada.
Twist spine prickly pear, western prickly pear
All the south and midwest, from Arizona to Louisiana, north to Montana and Minnesota
Low spreading clumps
Plains, grassland, woodland, up to 7,000 feet elevation
Yellow or orange, with red centers