There are 10 recognized varieties of purple-fruited pricklypear, and these may hybridize with other Opuntia species. This would explain some of the previous taxonomic confusion. “Brown- spined” pricklypear (Opuntia phaeacantha) is likely the most widespread and common pricklypear in the southwest.
The bright yellow to pink-orange flowers appear in May to June. The purplish, maroon, fleshy fruit (tunas) are relished by people and eagerly devoured by javelina, pack rats and coyotes.
Livestock will graze the pads and fruit when the spines have been burned off.
Adapted to a variety of habitats throughout the western portion of Texas.