Opuntia gosseliniana var. Santa Rita


The Opuntia gosseliniana var. Santa Rita is indigenous to southeastern Arizona (USA), Texas (USA), southern New Mexico (USA) and Mexico. It grows in desert grasslands, oak woodlands, flats and within sandy/rocky slopes. It is prized for its beautiful and decorative colors. Frost hardy and easy to cultivate. Active growing season takes place during the summer months. During the winter months, its purple pads provide a striking accent for an otherwise dormant cactus garden.

The Opuntia gosseliniana var. Santa Rita is an erect, bushy succulent shrub with a distinct, short trunk. Pads take on an attractive reddish to violet-purple color. Juvenile plants typically seem to be the most colorful. Stems are round, ovate or obovate, smooth, glabrous, glaucous blue-green in color, do not easily detach and can be broader than long. When stressed, stems turn reddish or violet-purple around the areolas and along the edge. This coloring pattern tends to be more pronounced during the winter months. Spines are few. Juvenile stems are often nearly completely spineless. Older stems may have 2 - 3 spines in the upper areolas only.

The purplish pads provide a perfect backdrop for its yellow flowers. Most certainly an eye catching species. Blooming season typically takes place from April through August. Fruits are purplish red and edible. They are oval, oblong to barrel-shaped and somewhat curved.

The Opuntia gosseliniana var. Santa Rita has been traditionally used to treat various ailments:

1. Constipation (natural laxative)
2. Boosts immune system
3. Reduces/prevents muscular inflammation
4. Lowers cholesterol levels in the body
5. Stabilizes glucose and insulin levels
6. Significant source of antioxidants
7. First aid ointment (i.e., wounds, scrapes and insect bites)
8. Reduces after effects of drinking too much alcohol



Opuntia santa-rita (Griffiths & Hare) Rose
Opuntia chlorotica var. santa-rita Griffiths & Hare
Opuntia gosseliniana subs. santa-rita (Griffiths & Hare) Guiggi
Opuntia violacea var. santa-rita (Griffiths & Hare) L.D.Benson

Plant Details
USDA Zone Information: 
7 - 11
Flower : 
Pale yellow
Ideal Light Conditions: 
Full sun to partial shade
Ideal Water Conditions: 
Moderate in summer/Dry in winter
Speed of Growth: 
Mature Height: 
Mature Width: 
Latin Name: 
Opuntia gosseliniana var. Santa Rita
Common Name: 
Blunt Spined Prickly Pear, Long Spined Prickly Pear, Purple Prickly Pear, Santa Rita Candle Cactus, Santa Rita Prickly Pear, Violet Prickly Pear

Corporate Clients (The King hangs hard)


RoboCop (1987)
RoboCop 2 (1990)
Hot Pursuit (2015)


USA Network's Queen of the South (2019)

Botanical Gardens:

New York Botanical Gardens
Oklahoma City Zoo/Botanical Gardens
Mercer Arboretum in Houston, Texas
Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan


Houston, TX Zoo
San Antonio, TX Zoo

Other Clientele:

Houston, TX Rodeo

The Cactus King's cacti and succulents have gone international! If you ever find yourself in China with a little spare time, head to the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom. It is the largest Aquarium in the world (no big deal, pun definitely intended).

The Cactus King's plants are also featured in the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom's partner parks. These include their water park, amusement park, crocodile park and botanical gardens.

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Physical Address (IN-PERSON VISITS):
7900 I-45N
Houston TX, 77037

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PO Box 16099
Houston, TX 77222

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