Spiny cactus, with waxy yellow flowers in late June - early July. Flowers measured to 5 cm diameter. Pads are elliptical to spatulate in shape, measured to 5 cm long and 3 cm wide. Pads are brittle and break apart easily at the nodes. Spines measured to 23 mm long. Decumbent growth habit.
Pads are smaller, rounder in cross section, with thicker, rounder joints (internodes) compared to those of Opuntia Polyacantha our other native Prickly-Pear Cactus. Also the pads of Opuntia fragilis are easily broken off. An easy way to distinguish between the two species is to give a gentle kick to a clump of cactus (you're wearing hiking boots, right?). If the pads break off easily, its Opuntia fragilis.
Native to dry prairie here in Saskatchewan.
We measured plant height to 11 cm.
Gardening note - I have grown Opuntia fragilis in my rock garden, but was rather disappointing and a nuisance. Never flowered after several years, and spread into large patches (I wanted small clumps only because it's no fun to weed around them). You can buy this plant via perennial plant catalogues in Canada.
We took the above photos June 28th dry prairie hillside, West block Grasslands National Park, about 400 km southwest of our home in Regina, SK.
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