2019 55¢ Cactus Flower (Opuntia engelmanni)
Value: 55¢ 1-ounce First-class rate (Forever)
Issue Date: February 15, 2019
First Day City: Mesa, AZ
Type of Stamp: Definitive
Printed by: Banknote Corporation of America
Printing Method: Offset
Format: Double-sided booklet of 20
Quantity Printed: 400,000,000
Prickly pear (Opuntia) are some of the most widespread of all cacti. They are native to North and South America, but were introduced in Europe, Africa, and Australia between the 15th and 18th century. The most common species is Engelmann's prickly pear – Opuntia engelmannii.
Each genus of cactus has special characteristics that set it apart from other types. Prickly pear cacti are fast-growing, have no distinct central growing point, and almost any part of the plant will take root when it touches the ground. For this reason, a single plant can rapidly take up an area of 30 feet or more and reach heights of 11 feet.
Prickly pear cacti get their name from the purple-red fruit that grows from the top of the plant in the summer. These were an important food source for Native American tribes and are considered a delicacy today.
Like most plants, the prickly pear cactus produces flowers before fruiting. The bright yellow blooms can be seen during the spring months and are about four inches in diameter. Their beauty is fleeting, however, as (like most cacti) the flowers last just one day. Seeing them in person is a real treat.