Shrubs, low, forming mats, 2-10 cm. Stem segments easily detached when terminal, dark green, subspheric to subcylindric, to flattened and elliptic obovate, (1.5-)2-5.5 × (1-)1.5-3 cm, low tuberculate (pronounced when dried), glabrous; areoles 3-5 per diagonal row across midstem segment, oval, 3 × 2.5 mm; wool white. Spines 3-8 per areole, in most areoles spreading, gray with brown tips, straight, ± acicular, terete, the longest 8-24 mm; depressed spines at base of areoles 0-3, 1-3 mm. Glochids in crescent at adaxial margin of areole, tan to brown, inconspicuous, to 3 mm. Flowers: inner tepals yellow, sometimes basally red, 20-26 mm; filaments white or red; anthers yellow; style white; stigma lobes green. Fruits tan, 10-30 × 8-15 mm, dry, glabrous; areoles 12-22, distal areoles bearing 1-6 short spines. Seeds tan to gray, flattened, warped, oblong to subcircular, 5-6 mm diam.; girdle protruding 1-1.5 mm. 2n = 66.
"Prostrate or spreading, forming dense mats to 5 dm wide; joints orbicular to obovate, very turgid, 2–5 × 1–2.5 cm, easily detached; areoles crowded, commonly 3–6 mm apart, usually coarsely white-woolly, all or nearly all armed with (1–)3–7 strongly barbed spines 1.2–2.5 cm; fls yellow to greenish, 4–5 cm wide; fr fleshy and greenish to reddish when young, dry and tan at maturity, inedible, 1.2–1.5 cm; seeds discoid, with an irregular margin; 2n=66. Dry prairies and plains; Ill. and Wis. and n. Mich. to B.C., n. Tex., and Ariz. May–July."
|Brittle pricklypear, little pricklypear|