This Prickly Pear has an attractive violet cast in winter and in times of drought. It’s a dramatic color contrast to other Southwestern plants. The lemon-yellow flowers bloom in spring and are followed by small reddish purple fruits. A wide variety of birds and other wildlife depend on this plant for food and shelter.
Birds love its fruit and nesting sites
Native jackrabbits and javelin eat its fleshy pads
Fruit can be used to make jams and jellies
Tolerates poor soil and drought
Crucial pollen source for native insects
Iconic xeriscape landscape plant
Found on gravel or sandy flats, mesas and hillsides from 0-5,500 feet.
The Spaniards discovered cochineal, a scale insect that feeds on Prickly Pears. They were used to make a crimson dye reserved for the King. Export of cochineal dye became a major economic activity and its source was kept secret for many years.
Purple Prickly Pear is very drought tolerant, needing little to no water once fully established. Plant this cactus in full sun in any well-drained soil. Water young plants twice a month in summer, once a month or less in the winter. Prune diseased or damaged pads in the summer.