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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 engelmannii var. engelmannii
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)Engelmann's prickly-pear; Engelmann's prickly pear; Engelmann's pricklypear; Engelmann's prickly-pear cactus; Engelmann's prickly pear cactus; Engelmann prickly-pear; Engelmann prickly pear; Engelmann pricklypear; Engelmann prickly-pear cactus; Engelmann prickly pear cactus; nopal de Engelmann; discus prickly pear; flaming prickly-pear; flaming prickly pear; flaming pricklypear
Common name(s) generally applied to other taxa or multiple taxaNew Mexican prickly-pear, New Mexico prickly pear, New Mexican pricklypear, desert prickly-pear, desert pricklypear, desert prickly pear, desert pricklypear cactus, yellow-spined prickly pear, yellow-spined pricklypear, white-spined prickly pear, white spined prickly pear, purple-fruited prickly pear, purple-fruited pricklypear, purple-fruit prickly pear are applied to multiple Opuntia taxa; cactus-apple, cactus apple are applied to multiple Cactaceae taxa; western prickly-pear, western pricklypear, western prickly pear are most appropriately applied to Opuntia X occidentalis
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
NotesEngelmann is a proper name, so upper case preferable; Engelmanns, Engelman, Engelman's, Engelmans, Englemann are errors
Synonymy: The Jepson Manual (1993), FNA, PLANTS, etcOpuntia phaeacantha Engelm. var. discata (Griffiths) L.D. Benson & Walk.
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