Why is the Prickly Pear cactus is the national cactus?
Opuntia is the scientific name for the 200 species of prickly pear cacti. One of the other common names is paddle cactus. The noun Opuntia is the cactus' genus. The cactus' species varies according to which prickly pear cactus is under consideration. For example, Opuntia basilaris refers to the beaver tail cactus.