Opuntia basilaris, the beavertail cactus or beavertail prickly pear, is a cactus species found in the southwest United States. It occurs mostly in the Mojave, Anza-Borrego, and Colorado Deserts, as well as in the Colorado Plateau and northwest Mexico. It is also found throughout the Grand Canyon and Colorado River region as well as into southern Utah and Nevada, and in the western Arizona regions along the Lower Colorado River Valley.

Opuntia basilaris is a medium-sized to small prickly pear cactus 70–400 mm (2.8–15.7 in) tall, with pink to rose-colored flowers. A single plant may consist of hundreds of fleshy, flattened pads. These are more or less blue-gray, depending on variety, 50–210 mm (2.0–8.3 in) long and less than 100 mm (3.9 in) wide and 10–15 mm (0.4–0.6 in) thick. They are typically spineless, but as is typical for Opuntia species, have many small barbed bristles, called glochids, that easily penetrate the skin. Opuntia basilaris blooms from spring to early summer.

Opuntia basilaris contains 0.01% mescaline and 4-hydroxy-3-5-dimethoxyphenethylamine.

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.

Observations Map

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