Micropuntia is a genus of highly specialized, tuberous Opuntioid Cacti.
Micropuntia is restricted to the Great Basin region of the western United States, specifically in western Utah, northern Nevada, and far eastern California. This cactus grows in gravelly alluvial fans, often above salt flats or alkali basins. Micropuntia specimens can be locally common, although they are difficult to locate, often growing under other shrubs such as Shadscale.
Micropuntia differs from other North American Opuntioid cacti in having a geophytic habit, where above-ground growth dies back to the crown in adverse conditions, and resprouting under more favorable conditions. Authors have described the underground storage structure as a 'tuberous root" or true tuber. The above-ground stems are variable, being cylindrical to globular, and the areoles bear flexible yellow spines and white wool. Overall, the aboveground growth can often form a cushion-plant habit. The flowers are bright magenta, and the fruits are dehiscent. The seeds are unique, with a groove running along the hilar surface.
Micropuntia pulchella has at various times been included in Opuntia and Grusonia. Although many species have been described, current literature recognizes one species in the genus. Some species currently included in Micropuntia pulchella are: M. brachyrhopalica, M. barkleyana, and M. specatissima.