is one of the few prickly pear species to be completely or mostly lacking spines; if present they are about half an inch in length, one, two or three per areole, and concentrated along the edge of the pads, which are oval in shape, up to 6 inches across and 10 inches long. Pads have a smooth surface, are bluish-green in color and quite thin. The small areoles are well-separated, arranged in neat rows, diagonally across the pads. Mature plants form a short trunk and typically grow to heights of 2 to 4 feet, but mostly spread sideways, the main branches resting on or close to the ground.
This species is found in scattered locations in southeast Arizona, from Tucson south to the Mexican border (and beyond). It is sometimes considered to be a variety of opuntia phaeacantha
, since the pads are similar in size, shape and coloration.