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Opuntia santa rita

Pronunciation: Oh-pun-tee-a san-ta ree-ta
Family: Cactaceae
Synonym: Opuntia santa rita var. Violacea, opuntia macrocentra var. Macrocentra, opuntia violacea var. Macrocentra, opuntia gosseliniana, opuntia violacea var. Castetteri
Common Name: Santa rita prickly pear cactus, blue blade, dollar cactus, purple prickly pear
Plant Type:
  • trees, shrubs
  • succulent and cactus
Height to: 6'
Width to: 6'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • 30 to 20ºF ZONE 9
  • 40 to 30ºF ZONE 10
  • 50 to 40ºF ZONE 11
  • 60 to 50ºF ZONE 12
Notes for Identification: Scientific: opuntia santa rita (there is much taxonomic confusion about the name. Other recognized scientific names include but are not limited too: opuntia santa rita var. Violacea, opuntia macrocentra var. Macrocentra, opuntia violacea var. Macrocentra, opuntia gosseliniana, opuntia violacea var. Castetteri) origin: texas, new mexico, and arizona south into northern mexico hardiness zones: sunset 13, 18-24 usda 9 - 11 landscape use: stem and flower accent cactus for desert style gardens, container plant. Form & character: shrubby cactus, rigid, dry, colorful. Growth habit: moderate growth rate, upright and many branched to 6' in height with equal spread. Foliage/texture: stems of opuntia are jointed into flattened sections called blades or pads which store water. Blue blade pads are generally glaucous blue. Immature blue blade pads or pads that are cold or drought stressed will have a distinct purple tinge. All blue blade pads are orbicular (rounded to circular) to 8" long and wide. Mature pads are leafless whereas emerging juvenile pads in spring have many small cylindrical leaves that each taper to a point. Mature pads are also generally spineless, though occasionally a terminal pad will have infrequent clusters of spines to 2" long mostly on upper margins, spines tinged reddish-brown to pink. Instead of spines, all blue blade pad aeroles are whitish brown with very short, but very potentially aggravating, glochids; coarse texture. Flowers & fruits: flowers cream to yellow on ends of highest pads, reddish fruit in late summer and fall. Seasonal color: consistently blooms in april to may. Temperature: hardy to 25of light: full sun to partial shade soil: tolerant watering: extremely drought tolerant, but an occasional summer soaking will keep pads flush. Pruning: none propagation: as with all opuntia, blue blade cactus easily roots at the basal end of pads, seed (generally unnecessary) disease and pests: mealy bugs and cochineal scale which looks like cottony cushion scale and produces a purplish red dye afflict urban specimens sometimes in epidemic fashion. Both scale insects on cacti are difficult to control. In my yard, i prevent scale infestations by periodically spraying off cacti stem pads with a garden hose fit with a high pressure nozzle (or 'macho' thumb). Additional comments: one of many good species of opuntia for use in phoenix. Since the botanical name of this cactus has changed several times in the last 20 years, don't be surprised at others you may meet who hold fast to calling it by an older scientific name. Source: asu
USDA Heat Zones (days above 86ºF):
  • 120 to 150 days ZONE 9
  • 150 to 180 days ZONE 10
  • 180 to 210 days ZONE 11
  • Greater then 210 ZONE 12
Seed photo: 0
Located in: Succulents
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