These tree-like plants are wonderfully dignified and solemn in aspect, with none of the grotesque or ferocious effect so common among their relations. They grow in numbers on the mountain slopes around Tucson and are easily recognized by their size and very upright form, rearing their thick, cylindrical branches straight up in the air, to a height of thirty or forty feet. They are smooth and light green, armed with rows of spines in stars along the ridges, and ornamented during May and June with handsome, large, whitish, waxlike flowers, very perfect in form, opening in the daytime, blooming most abundantly on the sunny side of the plant and remaining open but a short time. Woodpeckers often make holes for nests in the branches, which are used afterwards by a little native owl, the smallest kind in the world, and by honey-bees, and these holes often lead to decay and to the ultimate death of the tree. The fruits, with crimson flesh and black seeds, are valued by the Papago Indians for food, and mature in enormous quantities in midsummer, but birds eat up many of the seeds and of the millions reaching the ground only a very few germinate and develop into odd, little round plants, a few inches high, often eaten by some animal before they become sufficiently prickly for protection.

Common Prickly Pear  Opuntia

Common Prickly Pear- Opuntia. EVENING PRIMROSE FAMILY. Onagraceae.