Smooth Prickly Pear


Succulentopedia

Opuntia humifusa (Eastern Prickly Pear)

Opuntia humifusa (Eastern Prickly Pear) is a low-growing cactus with flattened green stems formed of segments. Barbed bristles are found…


Opuntia Species, Smooth Mountain Prickly Pear, Indian Fig, Mission Cactus, Tuberous Prickly Pear

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Opuntia (op-UN-shee-a) (Info)
Species: ficus-indica (FY-kuss IN-dih-kuh) (Info)
Synonym:Cactus ficus-indica
Synonym:Opuntia arcei
Synonym:Opuntia castillae
Synonym:Opuntia chinensis
Synonym:Opuntia cordobensis

Category:

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Foliage:

This plant is fire-retardant

Foliage Color:

Height:

Spacing:

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

Where to Grow:

Danger:

Plant has spines or sharp edges use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

Allow cut surface to callous over before planting

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen clean and dry seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Regional

This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Black Canyon City, Arizona

Citrus Heights, California

Knights Landing, California

Jacksonville, Florida(2 reports)

Kings Mountain, North Carolina

Gardeners' Notes:

On Mar 8, 2015, kinderegg from Las Vegas, NV wrote:

This is a fast growing cactus by cactus standards. It needs supplemental water here in the Mojave desert, but it is quite drought tolerant. I like the fruit, which varies wildly from plant to plant. It clones easily from a separated mature pad. If you find a plant with particularly good fruit, clone it in a loose medium and don't overwater it. This plant does contain glochids, so handle with care.

On Jan 16, 2013, martenfisher from Crystal River, FL wrote:

So much false information here about this plant. Opuntia ficus-indica is an ancient form of hybrid believed to be started in Mexico thousands of years ago. This plant has been developed to withstand different conditions in different regions. It is generalized that Opuntia ficus-indica can not survive certain conditions. Some varieties can sustain temps easily to the lower teens while others may freeze in the upper 20's. Some will rot in high humidity or rainy conditions while other varieties may survive with no problem in these conditions. I have many varieties of Opuntia ficus-indica from Mexico to Peru. I have done substantial testing on this wonderful plant the many forms of fruits they produce. If you think there is one standard for this plant then you would be wrong. Just like tomato,. read more lettuce, or potato varieties so are the Opuntia ficus-indica.

On Oct 5, 2012, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

They to me,taste like watermelon-strawberry light..not very sweet in bay area plants. Our cool summers have a hand in that. Still,fun to have one of these no care..and I mean,NO CARE plants.

On Apr 28, 2012, Peterthecactusguy from Black Canyon City, AZ wrote:

O. ficus-indica is not COLD/wet winter hardy. 16F will kill them. Many in my area are dying slowly from the cold two winters ago.

I cheat and put mine on a south facing wall and they are doing ok. They survived the 31F winter. BTW the plant that I got was a natrualized plant that grew from seed in the schools yard. Plant was going to be removed and thrown into the garbage so I dug it up roots and all.. Caution this plant HAS glochids, I got plenty of them on me. The plants around here have orange flowers and spiny trunks at the base with reddish colored glochids.
My plant hasn't bloomed yet, it's less than 2 years old with around 15 pads.

On May 4, 2009, guygee from Satellite Beach, FL wrote:

According to an article in the Arizona Journal-Miner - Oct 5, 1910, page 2 (available via Google) the USDA was cultivating 8-10 varieties of "spineless prickly pear" in Chico CA and Brownsville TX, with a planned distribution of 8-10 tons in the spring of 1911 for testing of agricultural economic viability. The varieties were not to be distributed to areas where temperatures reached below 20 degrees, and specified areas of distribution included Coastal Florida, as well as parts of Texas, California and Arizona.

Perhaps this helps explain some of the confusion that centers around the various varieties of spineless prickly pear.

The cultivar that I am growing in Central Florida is completely spineless and without glochids down to the base, The tender skin of the. read more wrist may be rubbed anywhere on the plant without irritation.

Edit: My specimen and its all of the other plants propagated from it now all have small glochids this season, in the hot and dry summer of 2010. Perhaps the unusual weather has been a trigger, but I must retract the above claim that I know of any cultivar that is "glochid-free".

On Mar 12, 2008, goldenstate from Fresno, CA wrote:

There is a great confusion as to the different varieties of opuntia. This Opuntia Ficus-Indica is ONLY hardy to about 20 degrees. There are other Opuntia species that are much more tolerant of freezing temperatures, two of them being native to michigan (Opuntia Compressa and Opuntia Fragillis). Those growing Opuntia outside of zone 8 and higher, are growing a different species of opuntia, NOT Opuntia Ficus-Carica.

On Jan 31, 2008, ogrejelly from Gilbert, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

Not much to add based on other comments but I have found that this has to be the most hearty plant I have. I had some kids in the neighborhood smash mine down to a pile of mush with a stick and the thing just came back within a few months.

It is also about the easiest thing to transplant in the world. just stick a broken off pad that has dried up for a week in the ground and there it goes. Survives in PHX without any water but I usually give it a little each month just to keep the pads full and lush. A terrific plant with little to no waist and zero maintenance. just be careful as it grows fast!

On Mar 31, 2005, OldeOake from Back of Beyond, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

This variety ( opuntia ficus-indica) has very edible pads and fruit. You will still need to clean off the tiny spines (versus long spines) off with a vegetable peeler.

The fruit have largish seeds, slightly smaller than a nasturtium seed.

Not all verieties of opuntia are edible, however.

The correct term in Spanish for the fruit is tuna (plural tunas) and the word is pronounced just like we pronounce in English the word for the fish no

is present in the spelling or pronunciation.

The fruit can be eaten out of hand, fresh, or cooked into jelly or jam.

To prepare for eating, the pads are cleaned of any spines with a knife or vegetable peeler, then can be cooked whole or cut into julienne strips (this is the mor. read more e common way, rather than
cooking / eating whole pads.)

The raw julienne strips are combined with sliced red onions, chopped cilantro, chopped resh tomatoes, and lime juice with salt to taste to make a nice fresh salad.

You may also parboil the julienned strips and stew with a chile & tomato salsa, or stew with chiles and tomatillos, or scramble with eggs and load into tortillas to make tacos.

Nopalitos (cactus pads) are a very traditional Mexican lenten food.

They are full of fiber and have a high water content. They are low in carbs and calories and have many nutrients.

They are also a traditional folk remedy for diabetes.

On Mar 29, 2005, cacti_lover from Henderson, NV (Zone 9b) wrote:

This cactus is not as hardy as listed. The pads will suffer damage below 20F, but the plant itself usually recovers. It suffers more from wind damage than frost damage in this climate.

This is a very useful cactus. It looks nice as a landscape plant but can be use as barrier fence as well. Both the fruits and young pads are edible. The ripe fruits are sweet and juicy, but the seed are very hard. The pads has a slimy texture similar to okras, but has a slight sour citrus taste to it.

On Dec 2, 2004, Xenomorf from Phoenix, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

This was once a weed problem in Hawaii.
The juice has been used for making candles.

On Nov 30, 2004, Xenomorf from Phoenix, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

If you can pick the new pads when they still have the leaves on them (young and forming), then there will be no spines or glochids on them, only the leaves, which can be rubbed off under running water. No need to peel if picked young enough.

BTW- this species is ONLY cold hardy to zone 8b.

Other synonyms include: Cactus opuntia, Platyopuntia vulgaris, Cactus compressus, Opuntia compressa [illegitimate] & Platyopuntia cordobensis.

In a 2011 publication: Opuntia paraguayensis was re-assessed and found to be a synonym of Opuntia ficus-indica.

On Feb 2, 2004, gray48 from Kings Mountain, NC wrote:

When I lived in South Carolina, along the borderline of North Carolina as well. these cacti grew like mad! My husband would cut them back and throw the pieces over the fence into a pasture. He was hoping the pieces would die and we looked a few months later and they had continued growing and spreading, crossing the low part of the fence and into his lawn. All he could say was " you just can't kill the darn stuff! ". They were beauties every summer. He had a friend who would want the fruit part of this plant. I had no idea one could eat those things. His friend said they were good, I did not try it! I have posted a picture of our plant, still to be reviewed.

On Jan 4, 2004, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, Tx.
The tuberous prickly pear, native to Mexico and the southwestern regions of the United States and also found in South Africa, Spain, and Italy, is a trunk-forming segmented evergreen cactus which can grow to to 15 feet tall and to 10 feet wide. However, I have never seen any this large in my locale. They are usually up to 6 feet tall and wide. The large, oblong-shaped, pads have few spines. The old pads form woody stems.

Yellow or orange cup-shaped flowers are produced on the perimeter of the pads in spring or early summer. It performs best in full or reflected sun, adapts to various types of soil that has good drainage and is drought tolerant. The pads shrivel during severe drought which indicates a need for supplemental water otherwise, there is n. read more o need to water the plant once established. It is hardy to the mid 20s (some sources list 15 degrees) with low 20s causing some damage to the pads.

Nopales is the Spanish name for prickly pear cactus pads, considered a vegetable. They have been a food source in Mexico for hundreds of years and have recently gained popularity in the United States as well. The pads have extremely high amounts of vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, fiber, and vitamin A, but low levels of protein. The small, new pads are tender and good to eat once debarbed of any spines. Napoles are a little bit tart and taste somewhat like green peppers (others say they taste more like tart green beans or tart asparagus). Nopales can be purchased in some grocery stores especially in the southwest and always in Mexican markets. Of course, they can also be gathered from the prickly pear cactus itself if available.

Nopalitos are nopales diced or cut into strips and are available pickled or packed in water in cans. Used in salads, omelets, casseroles and soups, as a grilled dish and as a pan fry after being rolled in corn meal, they may be prepared in a variety of other ways. Candied nopales, acitrуnes, are available in cans or jars packed in sugar syrup.

Native Americans made a poultice from napoles to put on bruises and sprains and to dress wounds. They made an ointment for burns and stings. After they boiled and crushed the pads, they placed the gooey juice in mortar or whitewash to increase its adhesiveness. When repairing the San Xavier Mission Church near Tucson, modern cement was used, but failed to do the job because the building could not “breathe.” Later, Indian workers mixed the mucilage from prickly pear pads with a mud mix and succeeded in the secomd attempt at preserving it. To increase the hardiness of candles, pad juice has been boiled with tallow. The sap has been used in the production of commercial alcohol.

Once the bloom has faded, the approximately 3.5 inch long pear-shaped edible fruit called tunas are formed. At first they are green and when fully ripe, they are a reddish- purple. They are eaten by deer, turkeys, sheep, javelinas, goats, cattle and a wide variety of other animals including humans. A delicious jelly can be made from the tuna's juice. The juice can be mixed with 7-Up or Sprite, pineapple juice and, if desired, alcoholic beverages to create a pleasant tasting purple-colored punch. Some Native American Indians thought a tea brewed from the tuna would cure gallstones. In addition, the tunas are used to make a majenta die.

For more than 150 years in Texas and northern Mexico, the prickly pear cactus (pads and tunas) has been used as emergency food for cattle and other grazing livestock. I can personally attest to the fact that cattle just love it. I started a plant outside of the field that is opposite my yard. The cattle (only 5) escaped because the electric gate became stuck while open. Instead of eating my plants like they usually did when they escaped, they headed for the then huge prickly pear cactus plant. When they were rounded up and placed back in their own "yard", the tunas were gone as well as most of the pads. I was really upset at first, but then I was happy that they had not eaten the other plants in my yard. The plant grows so fast, it will recuperate in time.

On Oct 24, 2003, pigeon1943 from Harwinton, CT wrote:

I trasplanted one from Oklahoma to CT, and with winter mulch, and planting on south side(sunny side) of house, it flourishes! Had many transplants from cuttings -dozens, and they grow fast.

On Aug 12, 2003, davecwik from Smiths Creek, MI wrote:

its a fasinating low matinence catcus hardy to cold winters. it is also edible but be very careful skining it

On Mar 28, 2003, Kelli from L.A. (Canoga Park), CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

It seems that every old adobe house in California is accompanied by an Opuntia ficus-indica. The young pads (nopales) and ripe fruits (tunas - that's an n with a

over it) are edible. These plants have also been used as a living "barbed wire" fence.


Opuntia Species, Eastern Prickly Pear, Low, Smooth Prickly Pear, Devil's Tongue

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Opuntia (op-UN-shee-a) (Info)
Species: humifusa (hew-mih-FEW-suh) (Info)
Synonym:Opuntia austrina
Synonym:Opuntia calcicola
Synonym:Opuntia compressa
Synonym:Opuntia fuscoatra
Synonym:Opuntia impedata

Category:

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Foliage:

Foliage Color:

Height:

Spacing:

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 °C (-25 °F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual

Danger:

Plant has spines or sharp edges use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

Allow cut surface to callous over before planting

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen clean and dry seeds

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed clean and dry seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Regional

This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Black Canyon City, Arizona

Chicago, Illinois(2 reports)

North Attleboro, Massachusetts

Maryland Heights, Missouri

Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey

Elizabethtown, North Carolina

Fort Bragg, North Carolina

Greenville, North Carolina

Newton Grove, North Carolina

Allentown, Pennsylvania(2 reports)

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania(2 reports)

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Gardeners' Notes:

On Sep 2, 2019, BostonPlanted from Boston, MA (Zone 5b) wrote:

I have been enamored with our only hardy native cactus here in New England. The tiny spines (glochids) itch like crazy when they inevitably embed themselves in your fingers so wear gloves when handling. I have it in full sun sandy loam soil right at the front of my front garden. Passerbys are always asking about it. Cactus growing in the ground are not at all a common site here. Takes a while to rise from the dead in spring. It literally rises up slowly after laying flat and shriveled all winter. The pads right themselves and plump up to a bright smooth green. Blooms are large and yellow and appear in early June here. Fallen pads root very easily.

On Nov 28, 2016, cactusmann from Boston, MA (Zone 6b) wrote:

Grows very well in south Florida except ones that originate from a much more northern location don't flower as well in the springtime as the southern forms do.They are very common in Florida and south east USA in a dry scrub environment.They need to be in full sun and have a soil that doesn't retain water in order for it to survive the cold winter months.They are very rare the further north you go.The are not rare up north because of the cold weather but because there is not many areas available that are sunny and open with no shade.They need full sun and kept dry to be able to handle colder tempertures.The few areas available that are sunny and open often have tree growing that out competes with them and covers them with shade and kills them off.That iss why they are so rare up north.In f. read more act a good place to see them is in the wild up north is in Wellfleet Massachusetts on Cape Cod at the Wellfleet Bay Audubon sanctuary there is a huge clump with many hundreds of pads growing right along the bay in the sand dunes.There are no trees to shade it and it thrives there.This at its northern tip of its native range.

On Oct 31, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This isn't a groundcover, as it does not outcompete weeds. Keeping it weed-free entails encountering spines and glochids.

In the winter, it dehydrates (to turn its juices into a kind of anti-freeze), lies flat on the ground, and gets all wrinkly and ugly.

I don't think the brief season of bloom is worth the downsides.

On Aug 10, 2015, bogturtle from Egg Harbor Township, NJ wrote:

Common to our local pine barrens, this plant will expand to an ugly, huge patch, with much dead material, and with the spines, impossible to deal with. For that reason, mine is in a pot, to be moved within view during the magnificent bloom. So tolerant of dry soil that a potted one usually does fine. Ugly plant in Winter. If I knew a spine-less clone existed, I would buy it. But would never let it out of its container.

On May 3, 2015, Mark_B from Garden Grove, CA wrote:

This plant originates from Montana onto the Midwest. Here in Southern California, it doesn't do very well in full sunlight, as it gets pretty burned up as a young plant. But once it's fully grown, it does well. It is prone to mealybugs in Southern California. I use Sevin liquid to kill the mealybugs. I've yet to see mine bloom and bear fruit.

On Feb 12, 2014, BerkshireGardener from Housatonic, MA wrote:

I have grown this plant successfully in the harsh Berkshires of Massachusetts for the past five years, and it regularly tolerates -20 temps, yet keeps on growing and flowering! The fruits are a wonderful addition to salads.

On Jul 19, 2013, CactusBoss from Crystal Lake, IL wrote:

Amazing plant, grows like a weed. Cuttings root easily!

On Feb 4, 2013, Mr_Monopoly from North Olmsted, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

I just got this plant last spring and have heard many great things about it. I have seen it growing all over North Olmsted and surrounding cities. As for the people complaining about the spines, simple solution: DON'T TOUCH IT!

Update 11/14/13: Just got through a great season with this plant. It grows RAPIDLY, even in partial shade! The flowers are beautiful and bright yellow. They don't last long, but are nice while around. Still love this cactus!

On Dec 17, 2012, aliasjhnsn from Marineland, FL wrote:

This plant is an unbelievably awful scourge in coastal Florida where I reside.
Any tiny section will propagate in the poorest of soil (pure sand!) and torment any mammal that comes in contact with it. The spines are barbed and once the have penetrated the skin are basically impossible to remove.
I have scar tissue on my left thumb from a serious run in that happened over a decade ago.
The best way to fight this monster is to fertilize! It hates nutrients! But, I have seen it literally growing IN saltwater in the Bahamas!

On Apr 30, 2012, LJinWBPA from Wilkes-Barre, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

It's too bad many here are not aware that there is a cactus that can grow in PA- and is native. My sister had one in her zone 5/6 garden for a few years until it rotted from damp conditions. This is super easy to grow, propigate, and needs no winter protection here, It's only pet peeve seems to be damp sold for long periods and poor drainage because. it is a cactus. The only hard part for me is weeding around them which is why I prefer them in containers. The spines are sharp but not the worst. I use them as handles to move the pads. the worst part is the bristles (glochids). I try to keep this away from walking paths and pets. The glochids tend to haunt later on and can take a day or so to work their way out of the skin.
I got mine on ebay a few years back. Not lo. read more ng after I have been sharing them with people. I especially like them for hanging baskets (but not near where people walk!). It's one of the few things that can take a small hanging basket in a sunny area. I have one a put in a small plastic hanging basket a few years back and put it on a front porch where it gets partial sun (these do prefer full sun however), and gets exposed to wind, cold. and only gets an occasional watering and fertilizer. The plant is huge and looks cool even in the Winter when it's dormant. It has an eerie sihlouhette. Unfortunately I do seem to gets bristles stuck in my for-arm every time I climb up to water it but I am surprised it has done so well.
While these plants do well here they don't get as big as the ones in say, MD or VA. THen again that may be a good thing for some people as they stay manageable. If you make a mistake with these such as over-watering you may get some rot, but I just cut off the bad part and use a small amount of any common fungicide. This cactus is very forgiving. Also I would not recommend this for indoor use as the glochids can be sneaky and insidious. They're too easy to grow outside anyway.

On Apr 28, 2012, Peterthecactusguy from Black Canyon City, AZ wrote:

Although somewhat confused I have some O. humifusa growing in my garden. I had to enclose them with wire fencing because javelina like to eat them. I give mine plenty of water once they perk up. They usually are the last of my Opuntia to do anything. Zero flowers yet but it's getting pads like crazy!

To the haters, glochids are a part of growing Opuntia. I brave them. I have been caught many times, and will continue to be. I have 23 different Opuntia (and hybrids). I know a thing or two about the glochids and I will deal with them for the lovely flowers.

On Sep 7, 2011, mikesmode from Detroit Area, MI (Zone 6a) wrote:

I have been growing Opuntia humifusa in Michigan for a while now.

On May 25, 2011, divenany from Lebanon, TN wrote:

I began my plant with two pads (or leaves) three years ago here in Lebanon, TN from a plant in Chattanooga, TN. From those two leaves, I now have a plant that measures 6 ft by 6 ft and 5 ft tall. I prepared a rock garden for it on a small slope. Please take a look at my plant in the pictures under this category.

On Jan 18, 2011, glochid15 from Parsons, KS (Zone 6b) wrote:

This plant, based on my experience, tolerates more water than most opuntias. It is also easy to propagate through pad cuttings (be sure to use either heavy duty leather gloves or tongs when handling). It tends to spread quite rapidly in the right conditions even invasive at times. Flowers are usually bright yellow, but there are a few exceptions. In the wild, they are found throughout most of the United States and some parts of Canada, and tend to be smaller.

On Nov 29, 2010, agardenabove from Albuquerque, NM (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have been making jelly from the purple fruit of this plant for years. It is quite mild so this year I am adding some jalapeno juice to add spice to it. I wash, slit and cook the fruit, then either hang it in cheesecloth to drip or mash through a cloth into a colander. Then use your jelly recipes. The juice freezes for years if you cannot use it right away.

On Nov 29, 2010, concretephil from Osprey, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I eat this plant on a regular basis. It's a food source commonly used in Mexico. The pads are called Napols and when cooked the are called Napolitos. I pick them wearing leather gloves (learned the hard way), as another comment said, cotton gloves do not work.
Pick pads no bigger than 8 inches long, burn the spines off over an open flame, gas range works best, butane torch, any thing that has a flame that won't leave a bad taste such as a candle. I cut them in small strips, across the pads, simmer them adding a spash of cider vinager. Taste like green beans. Same thing for pears. After cleaning the pears cut them in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon and eat it like any other sweet fruit. In order to taste best, use only plant ripened very soft fruit.
I hate t. read more horned things, except roses, so I snitch pads off of neighbors plants (with permission) or those that grow along the road or on the sand dunes by the Gulf of Mexico.
If you don't want to take the trouble, you can find them in any store that sells primarily to the mexican population. Have found that South American's haven't been exposed to them because the live in higher elevations where the plants don't grow.

On Jun 19, 2010, RxBenson from Pikesville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

(Aside from my childhood horror stories of encountering the spines on this plant, I have a positive to offer. )

In the Pine Barrens area of NJ, old-timers would plant this common flower in the rotted centers of old tree stumps in their yards, adding soil (here it's close to beach sand. ) to the rotted humus.

The plants do shrivel something terrible here in winter, and I have often thought they were goners, but Spring brings them back bigger and better every year. (See my posted photos.)They are now encroaching on my sidewalk and I have to don the leather gloves and finally dig and relocate them.

The purple pears shrivel in winter, too. But sometime in Spring the animals devour them. (I thought they's have swiped them in the fall.)

> I never fertilize and water only if we're in a drought and I'm watering their neighbors.

On Oct 21, 2009, mswestover from Yulee, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Just lay a broken piece on top of the ground and it will root. Nothing bothers this plant.

On Mar 29, 2009, CARPE_DIEM from Chicago, IL wrote:

Has survived 3 Chicago winters with no protection. Yet to bloom though.

On Mar 21, 2009, bt18 from Union City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

You can find this cactus just about anywhere in Oklahoma but is more noticeable in rocky and hilly areas of the state such as the Wichita and Arbuckle mountains and in the canyon areas around Binger, OK. I have seen it grow in many shapes and sizes, with or without large needles, round or pointed pads and either dark green or light green. I currently own some I picked up from Lake Texoma-northern Texas side and has bloomed every year since 2005. It looks terrible in the winter, shriveled and purple colored, but bounces back in the March warmth. I also saw some south of Mustang, OK, but the pads were very small and the glochids had much more fuzzy needles than the Texoma variety, making it much more difficult to handle. It has not bloomed since I acquired it in Sept. 2005. O. compressa is a. read more lso a fast spreader in Oklahoma.

On Mar 20, 2009, emeraldsgarden from Fredericksburg, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

This cactus grows all over where I live and if you are not careful - it will take over. Fortunately we have a lot of shade, so we do not have that many. I can not remember how many times my children have fallen on them. The only good thing is their fruit! It makes a wonderful jelly and pancake syrup. It is very very sweet. It is worth the effort of harvesting.

On Nov 13, 2008, Menk from Darling Downs,
Australia wrote:

The form with the bright orange centre to the flower is absolutely stunning. Hardly a very prickly plant compared to some other opuntia species and is low growing, so easily controlled. Often referred to as the "lazy pear" because of its reclining and creeping growth habit.
If you handle with a pair of salad tongs the glochids will not be a problem. Gloves are useless. If they get glochids in them you might as well throw them away and spines will go straight through. Don't wear gloves when handling any opuntia!
O. humifusa also grows in Australia in New South Wales where it is naturalized in a small area. Sometimes it hybridizes with O. stricta wherever their ranges of distribution overlap.

Re another comment below, O. vulgaris is not a synonym of O. ficus-indi. read more ca, (or if it ever was then it must have been misapplied). O. vulgaris is an old name for (and therefore a synonym of) O. monacantha.
O. ficus-indica is a different species, and much larger in all it parts.

On Aug 10, 2008, 1cros3nails4gvn from Bluffton, SC (Zone 9a) wrote:

im sorry to say this with all those that seem to love this plant, but this plant is all around awful. it is imho very ugly, and cheap-looking. its flowers may seem nice, but they will only bring you closer to the dreadful spines that are brittle and nearly invisible so they break off into your skin, and punish you for getting too close to the plant with stings like tiny invisible wasps, whenever anything brushes against the punctures skin. the best way to rmove them is with a magnifying glass and tweezers, and after each has been removed separately, put duct tape on the affected area and pull off to remove any that are laying flat on the skin.. after tht put rubbing alcohol on. i think it reduces the skin's reaction to the spines

On Jun 27, 2008, Susanay from Youngstown, OH wrote:

Love this plant. We originally found a loose pad just lying on the ground of an island in the middle of the Hudson River in N.Y.
The plant settled quite nicely once we replanted it in Youngstown, Ohio. Today it flourishes and has even managed to flower this year for the first time ever.

On Apr 17, 2008, Chantell from Middle of, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

What a happy little plant! Nice and compact. petite little pads. Started with just one pad brought back from the beach. Didn't have a clue and literally just place it on the ground. Whaaa laaa. good sized clump growing now in 2 places and have shared with others. This one even seems to handle the rain and such without a second thought.

On Jul 5, 2007, CaptMicha from Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

I love this plant. When I first found out about it, I was amazed that a cactus was native to Maryland since I've always thought about cacti as occurring in hot dry deserts.

I first saw this plant when we moved into our new house at the end of our communal private drive. It was situated in the cracked separation of a large, low rock in full sun, obviously shallow, poor soil.

For some reason, it was considered to be of no aesthetic value by my neighbors and was removed by not before I had collected a chunk of it. I wish I knew it was going to happen so I could have taken the whole plant.

I have it growing now in the shallow soil on top of the roots of a very old oak tree that isn't very full so the cactus gets a good amount of sun.

. read more I never water it or feed it and it's very rewarding, gifting me with relatively fast growth, beautiful yellow flowers, and red "pears".

I've never tried the fruit but would like to this year. I haven't observed any animals consuming the fruit.

The plant turns purple and takes on a shriveled, mushy like appearance in winter but resorts back to it's firm, true green colored state once the weather remains warm.

The only downside is the thorns. They're tiny, hairlike and break when you take them out of skin unless you remove them very carefully and gently.

On Jun 18, 2007, KyWoods from Bellevue, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

My neighbor has these atop a long, low stone wall in front of her yard, and when they bloom, it's a lovely sight!

On Jun 18, 2007, fishrepair from Worthville, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

This plant is extremely easy to propagate. It sometimes propagates itself by simply dropping a new leaf to the ground, where it almost immediately roots.It is very hardy to 25 below zero and to sometimes to 120 degrees.

On Jun 24, 2006, shortleaf from suburban K.C., MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

Neat cactus, good for northern climes.

On Feb 17, 2006, raisedbedbob from Walkerton, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

American Indians poulticed peeled pads on wounds and applied the juice to warts, They dranks pad tea for lung ailments. In folk medicine, peeled pads were poulticed for rheumatism juice used to treat kidney stones. Baked pads were used for gout chronic ulcers and wounds.

On Sep 11, 2005, Fernshield from Whitehall, PA wrote:

withers in winter plumps reliably in spring numerous large (3.5 to 5 in) yellow flowers in mid-june new specimens are easily grown indoors over the winter months 50 to 70 % sand with equal parts potting soil and organic material (peat moss) seems to work best as it provides the extra drainage during wet spells, will not do well in soil with lots of clay. Grows well on sloped ground, where it can be an effective deterrent to erosion. IMPORTANT TIP: when removing pads for new specimens, allow the point of removal to 'callous' over before placing in planting mix.

On May 14, 2005, wtliftr from Wilson's Mills, NC wrote:

LOVE this plant! In spite of the spines and glochids. It grows naturally in South Eastern NC. Wild animals, such as racoons love the fruits, which can also be consumed by humans. The green pads can also be eaten as a vegetable. Grew extensively on the grounds of my old Scout Camp.

On Jan 18, 2005, SudieGoodman from Broaddus, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Sudie, Zone 8b Southeast TX
Potted rooted cutting in 5 gal. plastic pot. Placed in west flower bed. Prickly Pear gets good drainage and lots & lots of hot, Texas sun!
Mid-summer blooms are deep, canary yellow & beautiful lasting about 3 weeks. After blooming when Fall arrives, Prickley (pears) are ripe & ready for eating similiar, in taste & process, to fried, green tomatoes.
East TX folks fry the tunas (red fruit) which are delicious.
Fireants invaded pot. I have an insect arsenal & discouraged fire ants who moved to another location. lol
Prickly Pear is a perennial height is 6-12" hardiness in zones 4b to 10b foliage is evergreen drought-tolerant do not overwater (this is a desert plant)
propagate by rooted, stem cuttings.
. read more no seeds multiplies similar to aloe from roots making new plants.

On Jan 17, 2005, JodyC from Palmyra, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

Primarily bees visit the flowers (both long-tongued and short-tongued), including Plasterer bees, Halictid bees, large Leaf-Cutting bees, Miner bees, bumblebees, and large Carpenter bees. These bees often collect the copious pollen the larger bees are more likely to cause pollination. In the eastern states, the relationship of cacti to wildlife is less well-known than in the western U.S. From these western studies, it appear that the fruit and seeds are occasionally eaten by the Wild Turkey, Striped Skunk, and Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrel. The fruit and stems (pads) are sometimes eaten by the Cottontail Rabbit, White-Tailed Deer, and Coyote, notwithstanding the spines. All of these animals occur in Illinois at the present time. Those animals eating the fruits help to disperse the seeds. read more , which can pass through their gullets unharmed.

The Eastern Prickly Pear is a striking plant with beautiful flowers. It has fewer spines than many western species of cactus, but they are still fairly formidable. Sometimes this cactus can form impressively large colonies, if it persists at the same location for a sufficiently long period of time. The only other cactus with a similar size and appearance in Illinois is Opuntia macrorhiza (Big-Rooted Prickly Pear) this species differs from the Eastern Prickly Pear by its thick tuberous root, and two or more spines can appear from each of its areoles, rather than just one. In the past, the Eastern Prickly Pear has been referred to by various scientific names, including Opuntia compressa and Opuntia rafinesquei.

On Dec 1, 2004, Xenomorf from Phoenix, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

More synonyms are:
Opuntia compressa, Opuntia mesacantha, Opuntia italica, Opuntia rafinesquei, Opuntia fuscoatra, Opuntia allairei, Cactus humifusus, Opuntia caespitosa (Rafinesque)1830, Opuntia rafinesquei var. minor, Opuntia humifusa var. minor, Opuntia nemoralis, Opuntia rubiflora, Opuntia impedata, Opuntia calcicola, Opuntia cumulicola.

Opuntia vulgaris has been misapplied as a synonym in the past, and is not valid. Some still list it as a synonym though. It is actually a synonym of Opuntia ficus-indica as of the 2001 reclassifications.

This plant lies on the ground flat in the wintertime, very prostrate in the wintertime, sprawling out, less than 12 inches high. The pads look somewhat wrinkled laterally.
It is fairly rare but, some c. read more lones have gray or white spines which are borne on the areoles on the upper half of the pad only. They range from 0.8 to 2.0 inches long.

This is used medicinally for wounds, snakebites & warts by the Plains tribes in the Eastern U.S. Also used for mordant when dyeing.

On Oct 15, 2004, QueenB from Shepherd, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

The most common prickly pear dispersed throughout the state, it does well here, and can be invasive in a garden situation if not contained. It's an easy bloomer that will produce loads of yellow flowers dependably year after year. Tolerates freezing weather.

On Apr 2, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Small, sprawling prickly pear species native to the northeast US- grows great in Florida, and so-so in California. Here in S California it is a real miniature cactus, rarely exceeding 2-3" in height.



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