Only four members of the cactus family occur naturally in the Santa Monica Mountains, and that’s certainly enough for anyone who has ever encountered coast cholla.
All four species belong to the genus Opuntia, and all but one— the beavertail cactus, Opuntia basilaris—are characterized as “very spiny.” The beavertail is without spines.
However, as local wildlife author Milt McAuley explains in his guide to our native flora, the beavertail has “many short...
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