Description: It is a segmented herbaceous perennial whit flattened joints, forming a spiny prostrate, spreading or erect shrub. Often in the wild it spreads to forms small colonies up to 1 meter across ( or more as pads break off and root nearby).
Stem: Cladodes round to obovate or elliptical, green (more or less purple tinged in winter) , flattened 5-15 cm long, 1 cm thick. The young cladodes are erect but in autumn become quite shrivelled and begin to lie down as the plants withdraw water in preparation for winter. Rarely overcome the eight of 30 cm.
Areoles : With nasty tufts of yellow-brown glochids 3mm long. Subdivided regularly trough the whole surface and spaced out 1-2cm.
Spines: Spineless or with a few scattered needle-like spines, usually single or sometimes paired. brown or grey to black 2-2,5cm long.
Leaves: Conic, ephemeral 8 mm long.
Roots: Usually fibrous and shallow.
Flower: Diurnal, showy of a bright yellow colour, 5-7cm diameter, have 8-12 yellow rays and a bushy clump of yellow central stamens that react to the contact whit insect ( due to the sensitive filaments). Hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and autosterile.
Fruit: Red-purple or reddish pyriform fleshy 1,5-4cm long and up to 2-3cm wide; edible, whit glochidiate areoles.
Seeds: Discoidal whit a whitish thick arillus (6-33 per fruit)
Phenology: Blossoming time: June – July. Fruitsripen in late summer to autumn but can hang on the plant all year round.
Notes: Though technically evergreen , the plants become quite deflated and scraggly in appearance during winter. However, the pads green up and plump up quickly in spring.