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Opuntia - (Salisb.)J.F.MacBr.

Common Name Eastern Prickly Pear, Prickly Pear Cactus
Family Cactaceae
USDA hardiness 8-10
Known Hazards The plant has numerous minutely barbed glochids (hairs) that are easily dislodged when the plant is touched and they then become stuck to the skin where they are difficult to see and remove. They can cause considerable discomfort[200].
Habitats Opn dry areas[274]. Rocky bluffs, sand dunes, dry rocky or sandy grasslands.
Range North-eastern N. America. Naturalized on rocks and walls in S. and S.C. Europe.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Full sun
Opuntia Eastern Prickly Pear, Prickly Pear Cactus


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Opuntia13_filtered.jpg
Opuntia Eastern Prickly Pear, Prickly Pear Cactus
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Summary

Bloom Color: Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Spreading or horizontal.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Opuntia is an evergreen Perennial growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from July to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

O. humifusa. Raf. O. macrarthra. O. opuntia. O. rafinesquii. O. vulgaris.

Habitats

Edible Uses

Fruit - raw, cooked or dried for later use[3, 46, 61, 62, 183]. Sweet and gelatinous[85]. Lean and insipid[95]. The unripe fruits can be added to soups etc, imparting an okra-like mucilaginous quality[183]. The fruit can hang on the plant all year round[160]. The fruit is up to 4cm long and 3cm wide[200]. Be careful of the plants irritant hairs, see the notes above on toxicity. Pads - cooked or raw[62, 160]. Watery and very mucilaginous[85]. Seed - briefly roasted then ground into a powder[62]. It is also used as a thickener[62].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.


A poultice of the peeled pads is applied to wounds, sores etc[222]. The juice of the fruits is used as a treatment for warts[222]. A tea made from the pads is used in the treatment of lung ailments[222].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

The following notes are for O. ficus indica. They almost certainly also apply to this species[K]. A gum is obtained from the stem. It is used as a masticatory or can be mixed with oil to make candles[64, 207]. The juice of the boiled stem segments is very sticky. It is added to plaster, whitewash etc to make it adhere better to walls[92].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Alpine garden, Border, Container, Rock garden, Seashore.Requires a sandy or very well-drained soil[160]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 to 7.5[200]. Must be kept fairly dry in winter but likes a reasonable supply of water in the growing season[200]. A position at the base of a south-facing wall or somewhere that can be protected from winter rain is best for this plant. Requires warmth and plenty of sun. Plants tolerate considerable neglect. Plants are very cold-hardy, tolerating temperatures down to about -30°c[160], but they are intolerant of winter wet. There is considerable confusion over the correct name for this species, several of the synonyms listed above are also applied to other species in this genus. Special Features:Attracts birds, North American native, Attractive flowers or blooms. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 12 through 9. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. A clumping mat former. Forming a dense prostrate carpet with a limited spread [1-2]. The root pattern is fibrous dividing into a large number of fine roots [1-2].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Propagation

Seed - sow early spring in a very well-drained compost in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first two winters. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Give the plants some protection from winter wet. Make sure you have some reserve plants in case those outdoors do not overwinter. Cuttings of leaf pads at any time in the growing season. Remove a pad from the plant and then leave it in a dry sunny place for a couple of days to ensure that the base is thoroughly dry and has begun to callous. Pot up into a sandy compost. Very easy, rooting quickly.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Cylindropuntia spp.ChollaPerennial2.0 8-12 SLMHSND304
Opuntia compressaEastern Prickly Pear, Prickly Pear CactusPerennial0.2 8-10 FLMND312
Opuntia dilleniiDillen prickly pear, Perennial1.0 10-12 MLMNDM303
Opuntia erinaceaMojave Prickly PearPerennial0.5 8-11  LMND202
Opuntia ficus-indicaPrickly Pear, Barbary figPerennial5.0 8-11  LMND323
Opuntia fragilisPrickly Pear, Brittle pricklypearPerennial0.1 7-10  LMND212
Opuntia howeyi Perennial0.0 -  LMND202
Opuntia imbricataTree CholaPerennial3.0 8-11  LMND202
Opuntia littoralisWestern Prickly PearPerennial0.6 -  LMND202
Opuntia macrorhizaTwist-Spine Prickly PearPerennial0.1 8-11  LMND202
Opuntia microdasysBunny Ears, Angel's-wingsPerennial0.6 7-10  LMND202
Opuntia phaeacanthaBastard Fig, Tulip pricklypearPerennial0.5 8-11  LMND212
Opuntia polyacanthaPlains Prickly Pear, El Paso pricklypear, Grizzlybear pricklypear, Navajo Bridge pricklypear, HairspPerennial0.2 3-7  LMND312
Opuntia ramosissimaBranched Pencil ChollaPerennial0.6 7-10  LMND302
Opuntia tomentosaVelvet prickly pear, Woollyjoint PricklypearPerennial4.5 9-12 MLMNDM303

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.

 

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Author

(Salisb.)J.F.MacBr.

Botanical References

200274

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