Opuntia humifusa

prickly-pear cactus

Cactaceae

wildlife plant  


florida.plantatlas.usf.edu

Use this link to get more info about this plant from the USF Institute for Systematic Botany

Plant Specifics

Form: flower
Life Span: long-lived perennial
Size: Height: 1-2 (4) ft    Width: 1-3 ft
Flower Color: flower color      yellow
Fruit Color: fruit color      red
Phenology: evergreen
Noted for: Showy flowers, showy fruits, thorns, interesting foliage

Landscaping

Recommended Uses: Can be used as a small specimen plant or as a low-growing hedge that is sure to keep out intruders.
Considerations: Thorns! This plant has thorns and prickles that will attack the unwary. They make weeding difficult, and the plant needs to be where no one will accidentally step on it.
Propagation: Fragments of an existing plant.
Availability: Friends
Light: light requirement  
Moisture Tolerance:
moisture_bar
Salt Tolerance: Moderately salt tolerant
Soil or other substrate: Sand

Ecology

Wildlife:
wildlife plant  
Attracts a variety of insects, especially native bees. Nectar plant for dotted skipper (Hesperia attalus) butterflies.
Native Habitats: Scrub, scrubby flatwoods, sandhill, xeric disturbed areas.

Distribution and Planting Zones

Natural Range in Florida

USDA Zones:

USDA zones are based on minimum winter temperatures

Suitable to grow in:
   8A,8B,9A,9B,10A,10B,11

Ethnobotany:

Hispanic people use a fruits (called tunas) to make jams and syrups. They also slice the pads (nopales) into thin strips, grill them, and serve with a lime juice.

Other Comments:

Rarely grown but worthy of consideration in hot dry locations where the thorns are not an issue or are an asset.

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.