What Is It?

By MDC | May 1, 2021
From Xplor: May/June 2021
  • My stems look like paddles.
  • My leaves are mere bumps.
  • My spines foil pickers …
  • … who still spread my stickers

The eastern prickly pear’s thick pads are actually flattened stems. Tiny, soft, cone-shaped bumps on new pads are the cactus’s true leaves. At the base of each leaf bump, spines and tiny, hairlike bristles form. These make it hard for animals and people to pick the cactus’s yellow flowers and juicy red fruits. At the same time, bristles stick to feet and fur, helping spread the cactus to dry, desertlike places statewide. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/field-guide.

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This Issue's Staff

Bonnie Chasteen
Les Fortenberry
Alexis (AJ) Joyce
Angie Daly Morfeld
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White