Florida semaphore cactus
Synonyms: Opuntia spinosissima
Life Span: long-lived perennial
Size: Height: 4-10 ft
Flower Color: red
Fruit Color: red
Noted for: Showy flowers, showy fruits, hurricane wind resistance, thorns, interesting foliage
Recommended Uses: Specimen plant
Considerations: Distinctly thorny. Will need protection from invasive cactus moth.
Propagation: Plant segments (pads) of existing plant.
Availability: FNPS plant sales, Specialty providers
Salt Tolerance: Moderately salt tolerant
Soil or other substrate: Lime rock
Soil pH Range: Calcareous (high pH)
Pollinated by bees.
Native Habitats: Tropical rockland hammock, coastal rock barren, freshwater tidal swamp and inland margins of mangrove swamp. Photographs are of specimens planted at Fairchild Botanical Gardens.
Distribution and Planting Zones
Natural Range in Florida
USDA zones are based on minimum winter temperatures
Suitable to grow in:
Other Comments:This is a rare Florida plant. Please acquire only from a reputable source.
One of several cactus species that is attacked by the cactus moth, Cactoblastis cactorum, which arrived in Florida in 1989, and this invasive species has become a serious threat to the diversity and abundance of Opuntia cacti in North America. If it become a problem on an Opuntia used in landscaping, it is best treated by manual removal as insecticides can also kill native butterflies and pollinators.