noun \ō-ˈpən(t)-sh(ē-)ə\

Definition of OPUNTIA

:  any of a large genus (Opuntia) of American cacti with usually yellow flowers and flat or terete joints usually studded with tubercles bearing spines or prickly hairs — compare cholla, prickly pear

Origin of OPUNTIA

Latin, a plant, from feminine of opuntius of Opus, from Opunt-, Opus Opus, ancient city in Greece
First Known Use: 1601


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Any plant of the genus Opuntia, the largest genus of the cactus family. Native to the New World, it has characteristic small bristles with backward-facing barbs. Subgroups are based on the form of the stem segments: chollas have cylindrical joints, while prickly pears have flat joints. Sizes range from tiny, cold-hardy forms to treelike varieties. In the Northern Hemisphere, opuntia is found farther north than any other cactus.


Next Word in the Dictionary: Opuntiales
Previous Word in the Dictionary: opulent
All Words Near: opuntia

Seen & Heard

What made you want to look up opuntia? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).