Golden prickly-pear is narrowly-restricted to a small area of southern Utah and northern Arizona. Perhaps the easiest place to observe this species is within Utah’s Zion National Park if the iNaturalist observations of Opuntia aurea are any indication.
Described as a new species in 1933, Opuntia aurea was first considered by some to be a variant of the widespread beavertail cactus, Opuntia basilaris. One of the properties that immediately distinguishes it (when in flower) is the colouration of the centre-of-the-flower stigmatic lobes; in Opuntia aurea, these are green as shown in today’s photograph, compared to the “white to cream” of Opuntia basilaris. Other features can be sussed out in the Flora of North America’s key to Opuntia.