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Opuntia anacantha var. retrorsa

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Ordo: Caryophyllales

Familia: Cactaceae
Subfamilia: Opuntioideae
Tribus: Opuntieae
Genus: Opuntia
Series: O. ser. Xerocarpeae
Species: Opuntia basilaris
Varietas: O. b. var. basilaris – O. b. var. brachyclada – O. b. var. heilii – O. b. var. longiareolata – O. b. var. treleasei

Opuntia basilaris Engelm. & J.M.Bigelow (1856)

Opuntia basilaris var. albiflora Walton in Cact. J. (London) 2: 163. 1899 syn. sec. Kew WCVP (2019)
Opuntia basilaris var. cordata Fobe in Monatsschr. Kakteenk. 16: 46. 1906 syn. sec. Kew WCVP (2019)
Opuntia treleasei var. kernii Griffiths & Hare in Bull. New Mexico Agric. Exp. Sta. 60: 81. 1906 syn. sec. Kew WCVP (2019)
Opuntia humistrata Griffiths in Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 43(2): 83–84. 1916 syn. sec. Tropicos
Opuntia basilaris var. humistrata (Griffiths) W.T.Marshall in Marshall & Bock, Cactaceae: 65. 1941 syn. sec. Kew WCVP (2019)
Opuntia brachyclada subsp. humistrata (Griffiths) Wiggins & C.B.Wolf, Ill. Fl. Pacific States 3: 148. 1951 syn. sec. Tropicos
Opuntia intricata Griffiths in Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. 29: 10. 1916 syn. sec. Kew WCVP (2019)
Opuntia whitneyana E.M.Baxter, Calif. Cactus: 37. 1935 syn. sec. Parfitt & Gibson 2003
Opuntia basilaris var. whitneyana (E.M.Baxter) W.T.Marshall & T.M.Bock, Cactaceae: 65. 1941 syn. sec. Kew WCVP (2019)
Opuntia basilaris subsp. whitneyana (E.M.Baxter) Munz, Aliso 4: 94. 1958 syn. sec. Kew WCVP (2019)
Opuntia whitneyana var. albiflora E.M.Baxter, Calif. Cactus: 39. 1935 syn. sec. Kew WCVP (2019)
Opuntia basilaris var. albiflora (E.M.Baxter) W.T.Marshall & T.M.Bock, Cactaceae: 65. 1941, nom. illeg., syn. sec. Kew WCVP (2019)

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Northern America
Regional: Southwestern USA
Arizona, California
Regional: Southern Central USA
Nevada, Utah
Regional: Mexico
Mexico Northwest
Introduced into:
Canary Is.

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Engelmann, G. & Bigelow, J.M. 1856: Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts 3: 298, (preprint p. 51).

Additional references

Korotkova, N., Aquino, D., Arias, S., Eggli, U., Franck, A. , Gómez-Hinostrosa, C., Guerrero, P.C., Hernández, H.M., Kohlbecker, A., Köhler, M., Luther, K., Majure, L.C., Müller, A., Metzing, D., Nyffeler, R., Sánchez, D., Schlumpberger, B. & Berendsohn, W.G. 2021. Cactaceae at Caryophyllales. org–a dynamic online species-level taxonomic backbone for the family. Willdenowia 51(2): 251–270. DOI: 10.3372/wi.51.51208 Open access Reference page.


Korotkova, N. et al. 2022. Opuntia basilaris in Cactaceae at A global synthesis of species diversity in the angiosperm order Caryophyllales. Published online. Accessed: 2022 Jan 04. Reference page.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2022. Opuntia basilaris in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published online. Accessed: 2022 Jan 04. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2022. Opuntia basilaris. Published online. Accessed: Jan 04 2022. 2022. Opuntia basilaris. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published online. Accessed: 04 Jan 2022.
eFloras 2008. Opuntia basilaris in Flora of North America . Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network. Opuntia basilaris in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Accessed: 2022 Jan 04.

Vernacular names
English: Beavertail pricklypear, Beavertail Cactus
español: Nopal del castor
magyar: Hódfarkú fügekaktusz
lietuvių: Padrikoji opuncija
svenska: Bäversvansopuntia

Opuntia basilaris, the beavertail cactus or beavertail pricklypear, is a cactus species found in the southwest United States. It occurs mostly in the Mojave, Anza-Borrego, and Colorado Deserts, as well as in the Colorado Plateau and northwest Mexico. It is also found throughout the Grand Canyon and Colorado River region as well as into southern Utah and Nevada, and in the western Arizona regions along the Lower Colorado River Valley.[2][3]


Opuntia basilaris is a medium-sized to small prickly pear cactus 70–400 mm (2.8–15.7 in) tall, with pink to rose colored flowers. A single plant may consist of hundreds of fleshy, flattened pads. These are more or less blue-gray, depending on variety, 50–210 mm (2.0–8.3 in) long and less than 100 mm (3.9 in) wide and 10–15 mm (0.4–0.6 in) thick. They are typically spineless, but as is typical for Opuntia species, have many small barbed bristles, called glochids, that easily penetrate the skin. Opuntia basilaris blooms from spring to early summer.[2][3][4]

Deep magenta-red filaments and white to pink style[2]

Each areole supports many glochids but are usually without spines.[2]

Buds, in Joshua Tree National Park

Flowers, in Joshua Tree National Park


The species is variable in nature and several names under different ranks have been described. Only four of these are generally accepted.

Opuntia basilaris var. basilaris (2n=22)
Opuntia basilaris var. brachyclada (2n=22) – Little beavertail pricklypear
Opuntia basilaris var. heilii (2n=22) – Heil's beavertail
Opuntia basilaris var. longiareolata (2n=22) – Elongated beavertail prickly pear or Grand Canyon beavertail pricklypear
Opuntia basilaris var. treleasei(2n=33) – Trelease's beavertail prickly pear, Bakersfield cactus (This variety is designated as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act and California Endangered Species Act, which means that killing or possessing it is prohibited in California)

Some experts consider the Trelease's beavertail to be a full species (Bowen 1987, R. van de Hoek). It is unique among the varieties of Opuntia basilaris in that the areoles contain spines in addition to the bristles; this indicates that the species does vary a lot in its exterior.

Opuntia basilaris contains 0.01% mescaline and 4-hydroxy-3-5-dimethoxyphenethylamine.[5]

The Cahuilla Native Americans used beavertail as a food staple. The buds were cooked or steamed, and then were eaten or stored. The large seeds were ground up to be eaten as mush.[6]

Pinkava, D.J., Baker, M. & Puente, R. 2017. Opuntia basilaris (amended version of 2013 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T152316A121587572. Downloaded on 29 August 2021.
"Opuntia basilaris". in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora. Jepson Herbarium; University of California, Berkeley. 2018. Retrieved 2018-07-06.
Sullivan, Steven. K. (2018). "Opuntia basilaris". Wildflower Search. Retrieved 2018-07-06.
"Opuntia basilaris". Opuntia Web.
"Plant Chemistry".
"Temalpakh Ethnobotanical Garden". Malki Museum. Retrieved 2018-07-06.

Opuntia anacantha is a species belonging to the family Cactaceae, native to northern Argentina and Bolivia.


Shrubby cactus of about 60 cm high and 2.5 wide, normally prostrate, sometimes climbs due to its adventitious roots. The dark green segments are flat, narrow and elliptical in shape, about 5 to 40 cm long and 3.5 to 7 cm wide. The areolas are small. Orange or orange yellow flowers 4 cm long.

Opuntia anacantha was described by Carlos Luis Spegazzini and published in Bulletin du Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle 1904.[2]

Opuntia : generic name that comes from the Greek used by Pliny the Elder for a plant that grew around the city of Opus in Greece.[3]

anacantha : Latin epithet meaning "without thorns".[4]

Opuntia grosseana
Canine opuntia
Opuntia Kiska-Parrot
Platyopuntia kiska-parrot
Opuntia retrorsa
Platyopuntia retrorsa
Opuntia utikilio
Bispinosa Opuntia [5]


Oakley, L., Pin, A. & Duarte, W. 2017. Opuntia anacantha (amended version of 2013 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T152357A121589393. Downloaded on 29 August 2021.
"Tropicos | Name - Opuntia anacantha Speg". Retrieved 2019-10-20.
"Page O". Retrieved 2019-10-20.
"Dictionary of Botanical Epithets". Retrieved 2019-10-20.
"Opuntia anacantha Speg. — The Plant List". Retrieved 2019-10-20.

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