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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 polyacantha var. erinacea
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)starvation prickly-pear; starvation prickly pear; starvation pricklypear; starvation prickly-pear cactus; starvation prickly pear cactus; plains prickly-pear; plains prickly pear; plains pricklypear; plains prickly-pear cactus; plains prickly pear cactus; plains pricklypear cactus; plains tuna; central prickly-pear; central prickly pear; central pricklypear; many-spined opuntia; many spined opuntia; many-spined prickly-pear; many-spined prickly pear; hair-spine prickly-pear; hair-spine prickly pear; hair spine prickly pear; hairspine prickly-pear; hairspine prickly pear; hairspine pricklypear; hairy prickly-pear; hairy prickly pear
Common name(s) generally applied to other taxa or multiple taxagrizzly bear cactus, grizzly-bear pricklypear, grizzlybear pricklypear, grizzly bear pricklypear are most appropriately applied to var. erinacea (for which Opuntia ursina is a synonym); Mojave prickly-pear, Mojave pricklypear, Mojave prickly pear, Mohave prickly pear, red-flowered prickly pear, red-flowered pricklypear, red-flowering prickly pear are applied to multiple Opuntia taxa; old-man cactus, old man cactus, oldman cactus, saint's cactus, saints' cactus, saints cactus are applied to multiple Cactaceae taxa; western prickly-pear, western pricklypear, western prickly pear are most appropriately applied to Opuntia X occidentalis; porcupine prickly-pear, porcupine pricklypear, porcupine pricklypear cactus, porcupine prickly pear, porcupine prickly pear cactus are more commonly applied to var. hystricina
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
Synonymy: The Jepson Manual (1993), FNA, PLANTS, etcOpuntia erinacea Engelm. & J.M. Bigelow var. erinacea; Opuntia erinacea Engelm. & J.M. Bigelow var. utahensis (Engelm.) L.D. Benson; Opuntia ursina F.A.C. Weber; Opuntia polyacantha Haw. var. rufispina (Engelm. & J.M. Bigelow) L.D. Benson, misapplied
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