Life Span: long-lived perennial
Size: Height: 1-2 (4) ft Width: 1-3 ft
Flower Color: yellow
Fruit Color: red
Noted for: Showy flowers, showy fruits, thorns, interesting foliage
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.
Salt Tolerance: Moderately salt tolerant
Soil or other substrate: Sand
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 are based on minimum winter temperatures
Suitable to grow in:
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.