Common across the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It goes by a variety of common names, including “cow’s tongue cactus”, “cow tongue prickly pear”, “desert prickly pear”, “discus prickly pear”, “Engelmann’s prickly pear”, and “Texas prickly pear” in the US, and “nopal”, “abrojo”, “joconostle”, and “vela de coyote” in Mexico. Its overall form is generally shrubby, with dense clumps up to 3.5 meter high, usually with no apparent trunk. The pads are green (rarely blue-green), obovate to round, about 15-30 centimeter long and 12-20 centimeter wide. The glochids are yellow initially, then brown with age. Spines are extremely variable, with anywhere from 1-8 per areole, and often absent from lower areoles; they are yellow to white, slightly flattened, and 1-6 centimeter long. The flowers are yellow, occasionally reddish, 5-8 centimeter in diameter and about as long. The purple fleshy fruits are 3-7 centimeter long.