Shrubs, forming low clumps or with trailing branches, 10-30 cm. Stem segments not disarticulating, green to blue-green, flattened, elliptic to obovate, 6-15 × 5-12 cm, low tuberculate, papillate; areoles 7-11 per diagonal row across midstem segment, subcircular to elliptic, 3-5 × 2-4 mm; wool tan. Spines absent or only l spine in 1-few distal areoles, deflexed, yellow to gray, straight, terete, to 10 mm. Glochids in dense crescent at adaxial margin of areole and dense subapical tuft, yellow, to 6 mm. Flowers: inner tepals yellow throughout (magenta in introgressed plants), 25-30 mm; filaments white to yellow; anthers yellow; style white; stigma lobes green. Fruits tan to gray, 25-30 × 15-20 mm, dry, spineless; areoles 12-18. Seeds tan, subspheric to irregularly shaped, flattened, very large, 9-12 mm diam.; girdle thick, protruding 2.5-3.5 mm. 2n = 66.
Flowering late spring (May-Jun). Pinyon-juniper woodlands, red sands; 1500-1800 m; Ariz., Utah.
Opuntia aurea forms hybrids with O. polyacantha var. erinacea and O. phaeacantha, and forms hybrid swarms with O. pinkavae (B. D. Parfitt 1991).
Plant: low shrub, clump-forming or with trailing branches, 10-30 cm tall; PADS green to blue-green, usually papillate, elliptic to obovate, 6-15 cm long, 5-12 cm broad. AREOLES 7-11 in a diagonal row across midpad, subcircular to elliptic, 3-5 mm long, 2-4 cm wide; wool tan Leaves: SPINES absent or only l spine in 1 to few distal areoles per pad, yellow to gray, deflexed, to 6 mm long. GLOCHIDS yellow, in a dense apical crescent and a dense subapical tuft, to 3 mm long Flowers: inner tepals yellow (sometimes magenta), 2.5-3 cm long; filaments white to yellow; style white; fresh stigmas green. Fruit: FRUITS tan to gray, dry at maturity, spineless, 2.5-3 cm long, 1.5-2 mm in diameter; areoles 18-26. SEEDS tan, very large, subcircular, 9-12 mm in diameter; girdle broad, protruding 2.5-3.5 mm Misc: Red sand of pinyon-juniper woodlands; 1500-1800 m (4900-5900 ft); May-Jun REFERENCES: Pinkava, Donald J. Cactaceae. 2003. J. Ariz. - Nev. Acad. Sci. Volume 35(2).