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Common (vernacular) names applied to California vascular plants

compiled by Elizabeth Painter

up to date as of May 1, 2016

Common names (also referred to as vernacular names) are applied differently at different times and places by different users. This list is compiled from many sources and is intended to be as comprehensive as possible. It is not intended to indicate which common name is correct or preferred. Please send comments about this page to Elizabeth Painter (

TaxonOpuntia phaeacantha
Family common name(s)cactus
Genus common name(s)opuntia; prickly-pear cactus; prickly pear cactus; pricklypear cactus; prickly-pear; prickly pear; pricklypear; true prickly-pear; true prickly pear; prickle-pear cactus; prickle pear cactus; pricklepear cactus; prickle-pear; prickle pear; nopal; tuna; tuna cactus
Species common name(s)brown-spined prickly-pear; brown-spined prickly pear; brown-spined prickly pear; brown spined prickly pear; brown-spined pricklypear; brown spined pricklypear; brownspined pricklypear; brown-spined prickly-pear cactus; brown-spined prickly pear cactus; brown spined prickly pear cactus; brown-spine prickly-pear; brown-spine prickly-pear cactus; brown spine prickly-pear cactus; brownspine prickly pear; brownspine pricklypear; tulip prickly-pear; tulip prickly pear; tulip pricklypear; tulip prickly-pear cactus; tulip prickly pear cactus; tulip pricklypear cactus; berry prickly-pear; berry prickly pear; berry pricklypear; berry prickly-pear cactus; berry prickly pear cactus; densely spined prickly-pear; densely spined prickly pear; great prickly-pear; great prickly pear; great pricklypear; great pricklypear cactus; major prickly-pear; major prickly pear; major pricklypear; major pricklypear cactus; Mojave tuna; nopal pardo
Common name(s) generally applied to other taxa or multiple taxaMojave prickly-pear, Mojave pricklypear, Mojave prickly pear, Mohave prickly pear, New Mexican prickly-pear, New Mexico prickly pear, New Mexican pricklypear, desert prickly-pear, desert pricklypear, desert prickly pear, desert pricklypear cactus, smooth prickly-pear, smooth pricklypear, smooth prickly pear, sprawling prickly-pear, sprawling prickly pear, yellow-spined prickly pear, yellow-spined pricklypear, purple-fruited prickly pear, purple-fruited pricklypear, purple-fruit prickly-pear, purple-fruit prickly pear, red-flowered prickly pear, red-flowered pricklypear, red-flowering prickly pear, bastard fig are applied to multiple Opuntia taxa; Engelmann's prickly-pear, Engelmann's pricklypear, Engelmann's prickly pear, Engelmann's prickly-pear cactus, Engelmann's prickly pear cactus, Engelmann prickly-pear, Engelmann pricklypear, Engelmann prickly pear, Engelmann prickly pear cactus are more commonly applied to Opuntia engelmannii
Common name(s), rejectednot recommended: Indian-fig, Indian fig, Indian-fig prickly-pear, Indian-fig prickly pear, Indian-fig pricklypear, Indian fig prickly pear, Indian-fig opuntia, Indian fig opuntia, Indian pear
NotesMojave is a proper name, so upper case preferable
Synonymy: The Jepson Manual (1993), FNA, PLANTS, etcvar. major Engelm.; Opuntia littoralis Engelm. var. piercei (Fosberg) L.D. Benson & Walk.; probably Opuntia mojavensis Engelm. & J.M. Bigelow.
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