SCIENTIFIC NAME: Opuntia
COMMON NAME(S): Beavertail cactus, Tuna, Cholla, Prickly pear cactus
FAMILY: CACTACAEAE - Cactus family
ORIGIN: North America to Mexico, over 200 spp.
HABITAT: Dry vegetation, cultivated landscapes, houseplant
CHARACTERISTICS: Stems succulent, jointed, cylindrical or pad-like, covered with round areas (called aereoles) from which spines and tiny irritating hairs called glochids radiate
LEAVES: Appearing briefly along the upper regions of the stems and are small, simple and quickly shed
FLOWERS: Showy, round, variously colored
FLOWERING SEASON: Spring, summer
FRUITS: Succulent berry with many seeds; often edible but covered with glochids
ALLERGENIC PRINCIPLES: Unknown
ALLERGENIC PROPERTIES: Dermatological
COMMENTS: Most of the injury caused by the irritating glochids of these cacti is mechanical, but allergic reactions following irritation have been described.