Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Opuntia columbiana
Columbia prickly-pear

Distribution: Occurring east of the Cascades crest in Washington; south-central British Columbia to eastern Oregon, east to western and southern Idaho.

Habitat: From sagebrush plains and foothills to lower elevations in the mountains.

Flowers: May-July

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern

Pollination: Bees


Fleshy perennials, forming rounded clumps 1-3 dm. tall, often spreading into mats several meters broad; stems jointed, the sections strongly flattened, obovate to sub-obicular in outline, 5-15 cm. long.


Leaves scale-like, early-deciduous; the stem sections have several special cushions which bear grayish-yellow wool, a few tawny bristles, and 5-11 straight, spines 1-5 cm. long.


Flowers solitary on special cushions, yellow, but sometimes reddish-tinged, 5-7 cm. long and broad; sepals many, imbricate, greenish, reddish tinged; petals and stamens numerous; style 1, stigma lobed; ovary inferior, 1-celled.


Berry dry, 2.5 cm. long, spiny.

Accepted Name:
Opuntia columbiana Griffiths
Publication: Bull. Torrey Bot. Club. 43: 523. (as species). 1916.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Opuntia erinacea Engelm. & J.M. Bigelow var. columbiana (Griffiths) L.D. Benson [KZ99]
Opuntia polyacantha Haw., misapplied [FNA4, HC, HC2]
Opuntia polyacantha Haw. var. polyacantha, misapplied [FNA4, HC2]
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Opuntia columbiana in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Opuntia columbiana checklist entry.

OregonFlora: Opuntia columbiana information.

E-Flora BC: Opuntia columbiana atlas page.

CalPhotos: Opuntia columbiana photos.

USDA Plants: Opuntia columbiana information.

31 photographs:
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