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Prickly Pear Cactus Opuntia

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
oh-POON-tee-ah
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Prickly Pear is in the cacti family and contains over 100 species that are native to North and South America. They are erect or spreading cacti, ranging from small low-growing shrubs to treelike specimens reaching 16 feet or more in height. Some are grown as houseplants. They have flat paddle-shaped stem segments called cladodes that grow one on top of the other. They all have spines in the areoles but some have addition large spines. The flowers are showy in yellow, pink or orange colors. The fruits are generally fleshy, orange and spiny but sometimes dry.

The pads readily root to form new plants and in some parts of the world, they have become invasive. It is resistant to damage by deer and is highly salt tolerant. Generally speaking, they need well-drained soil and plenty of sunshine. Use in containers, rock gardens or coastal and desert areas.

 

See this plant in the following landscapes:
Water Feature Crevice Garden, Guilford County
Cultivars / Varieties:
    O. humifusa Opuntia humifusa
  • O. macrocentra
  • O. macrorhiza
  • O. phaeacantha 'Tahiti Sunrise'
O. humifusa, O. macrocentra, O. macrorhiza, O. phaeacantha 'Tahiti Sunrise'
Tags:
#drought tolerant#resistant#piedmont#salt tolerant#coastal#deer resistant#spines#houseplants#rock gardens#edible garden#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
    O. humifusa Opuntia humifusa
  • O. macrocentra
  • O. macrorhiza
  • O. phaeacantha 'Tahiti Sunrise'
O. humifusa, O. macrocentra, O. macrorhiza, O. phaeacantha 'Tahiti Sunrise'
Tags:
#drought tolerant#resistant#piedmont#salt tolerant#coastal#deer resistant#spines#houseplants#rock gardens#edible garden#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Opuntia
    Family:
    Cactaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Used in traditional medicine
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Americas
    Distribution:
    USA: AZ , CA , CO , ID , KS , MO , MT , ND , NE , NM , NV , OK , OR , SD , TX , UT , WA , WY Canada: AB , BC , SK
    Edibility:
    Ripe fruit edible raw or in jelly. Leaf pads, fruit and seeds can be eaten. Remove spines and glochids from pads and fruit before eating.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Succulent
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
    Appendage:
    Spines
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Very Dry
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Fruit Description:
    Fleshy or dry, depending on the species
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Pink
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Head
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Shape:
    Cup
    Flower Petals:
    7 - 20 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Variously colored, with many petals
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Insignificant
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are modified into large spines that cover the large, fleshy stems in clusters.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Buds:
    Hairy
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Flattened stems or shrublike with cylindric stems. Glochids (minute bristle-like, barbed hairs in clusters) on the stems (green, thickened stems resemble leaves).
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Container
    Houseplants
    Naturalized Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Edible Garden
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Salt
    Problems:
    Contact Dermatitis
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Painful skin and eye irritation following contact due to a splinter-like small infection from glochids lodged in the skin; internal effects in diabetics from ingestion.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Unknown; possibly mechanical effect of glochids.
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Stems