A perennial plant, also known as the "prickly pear of the plains". It has low-growing green or blue-green stems, which are covered with small, downy light brown areoles and yellow or reddish spines. Its numerous and long spines are iridescent in color (from yellow to dark brown, from pink-gray to gray-brown, from white to white-gray). In spring and summer it blooms with small yellow, magenta and orange flowers. It produces red-brown cylindrical fruits at the end of the stem, that ripen about two months after the flowering.