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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
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.