A Desert Without Cactus?
Suggested Citation: Kerr, Andy. 2000. Oregon Desert Guide: 70 Hikes. Seattle: The Mountaineers Books. pp. 45.
Most people never notice cactus in the Oregon Desert and understandably so. It is rather uncommon.
According to Intermountain Flora, by Arthur Cronquist, five species of cacti, in three different genera, can be found in Oregon. One usually first notices cacti when a spine pierces a foot, hand, or butt.
The hedgehog cactus (Pediocactus simpsonii) is round or barrel shaped and is found in certain sagebrush areas in hot canyons of eastern Oregon.
A newly discovered species of hedgehog cactus (Pediocactus sp. nov.) grows only in Harney and Wheeler Counties.
The brittle prickly pear cactus (Opuntia fragilus) has yellow flowers and can be found only in the dry hills near Mitchell and immediately eastward.
The red prickly pear cactus (0. polyacantha) has reddish to yellow flowers. It has a larger range than its brittle close relative and is found in widely scattered locations throughout the Oregon Desert.
The cushion coryphantha (Coryphantha vivipara) is found in several areas of southeast Oregon.