is one of the few prickly pear cacti that have no spines - another common in the Southwest (in the Mojave Desert) is opuntia basilaris
. Opuntia rufida develops into a large upright clump, 6 feet high, with hundreds of grey/green, 6 inch-long pads, branching from a low central stem. The pads produce a profusion of orange-yellow flowers in late spring. Glochids on the neatly arranged areoles have a distinct reddish tinge.
Distribution in the US is very limited - the plant occurs only in the Big Bend area of far west Texas, where it grows on well-drained areas at low elevations, below 4,000 feet. The species is much more common in Mexico. Opuntia rufida was once considered to be a variety of opuntia microdasys
, with which it forms hybrids (in Mexico).