Beavertail Cactus: Opuntia Basilaris

Opuntia basilaris, the beavertail cactus or beavertail pricklypear, is a medium-sized to small cactus species common in the Mojave Desert as weall as the Anza-Borrego Desert, and Colorado Deserts, the Colorado Plateau and northwest Mexico and ranges elsewhere in the southwest United States, through the Grand Canyon and Colorado River region to southern Utah, and in western Arizona.
A single plant may consist of hundreds of fleshy, flattened semi-oval or heart-shaped pads. These are more or less blue-gray, or sometimes described as green to purple in color, depending on variety, growing to a length of six inches and are maximum four inches wide and up to three fifths of inch thick. They are typically spineless, but have instead many small barbed bristles, called glochids, that easily penetrate the skin. The pink to rose colored flowers are most common; however, a rare variety of white and even yellow flowers also exist. Opuntia basilaris bloom from spring to early summer.
The Cahuilla Native Americans used beavertail as a food staple. The buds were cooked or steamed, and then were eaten or stored. The large seeds were ground up to be eaten as mush. The fruit is very sweet. When the pads of cactus are young, they can be cooked and used as greens.

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