Opuntia basilaris var. basilaris

Beavertail Pricklypear

Plant Type: Cactus
Sun: Sun
Drainage: Well-draining
Water: Naturalize, Occasional
Height X Width: 1' X 5'
Santa Clara County Local: No
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The beavertail pricklypear is one of California’s most beautiful cactus species. The pads are blue green and speckled with tan patches of small hairs. (Note: these small hairs, known as glochids, are quite irritating to the skin). The spring flowers are large, usually lavender or pink in color. The large summer fruit ranges from strawberry to ruby red. Among its strengths among other opuntia is the beavertail’s small size. It reaches only two feet in height. A patch will expand over the years as pads contact the ground and root. The succulent pads store water, allowing this cactus to survive with little water in its native habitat. The pads will slowly “deflate” with extended dryness but will plump up quickly with shallow watering. Our cold winters here in the SF Bay Area are well tolerated by this pricklypear, reflecting the occasional freezing temperatures in its native range.


Deer Resistant: Yes
Attractive to Bees: Yes
Attractive to Butterflies: Yes
Good Under Oaks: No
Evergreen or Deciduous: Evergreen