Plant Families / Opuntia
Opuntia is a large genus of the family Cactaceae, with some 200 species. Native to the Americas and the West Indies, this genus is divided into subgroups based on the form of the stem segments. Opuntia (Prickly Pears) are branched, jointed cacti with flat, broad joints (pads), usually densely spined, though a few species have no spines. Cylindropuntia (Cholla) are characterized by cylindrical joints. Some become large and treelike while others stay at ground level, often forming spreading carpets. Opuntias bear some of the most beautiful flowers in the cactus world and their fruit is often edible.