Eastern Prickly Pear (Opuntia humifusa) in the Prickly Pears Database

Common names:
Give a thumbs up Eastern Prickly Pear
Give a thumbs up Devil's-tongue
Give a thumbs up Low prickly pear
Give a thumbs up Prickly pear
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Botanical names:
Opuntia humifusa Accepted
Opuntia austrina Synonym

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Shrub
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Plant Height: 6 to 14"
Plant Spread: 1 to 2'
Fruit: Showy
Edible to birds
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: Yellow
Flower Time: Late spring or early summer
Suitable Locations: Xeriscapic
Uses: Provides winter interest
Will Naturalize
Edible Parts: Fruit
Resistances: Deer Resistant
Drought tolerant
Propagation: Seeds: Needs specific temperature: 68-86 degrees
Sow in situ
Start indoors
Can handle transplanting
Other info: Seeds may be extremely slow to germinate
Propagation: Other methods: Cuttings: Stem
Other: Individual pads form new plants; they must dry and callous for 10 days before planting
Containers: Needs excellent drainage in pots
Miscellaneous: Tolerates poor soil

blooms turn a lovely peach the second day, pink the third day.

Posted by threegardeners (Brockville, Ontario, Canada - Zone 5a) on Oct 25, 2011 3:47 PM

This is the only native cactus of Ontario, Canada. Endangered.
Every winter the entire plant turns to mush. When Spring arrives and the ground starts warming up, after a few rains, the plant starts to "fill out" again...eventually turning into it's full version.
Very prickly. Not a large plant. I've had this plant for 6 years and it barely fills half of a half whiskey barrel planter.
Blooms every year. Blooms begin a beautiful lemon yellow fading to peach the second day and pink the third and final day.
I've never gotten fruit from the blooms.
Needs no special treatment.

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Posted by SongofJoy (Clarksville, TN - Zone 6b) on Oct 26, 2011 2:56 PM

Opuntia humifusa, the hardy Prickly Pear, is native to the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. It is easy to grow, rooting readily from pads stuck in the ground or just lying on top of the soil.

Opuntias are very popular as a food in many parts of the world. The pads, called nopales, are a popular vegetable in Mexico and Central America. They are usually cooked but can be eaten raw, tasting a little like green beans.

The spines of this plant are sharp enough but be especially careful of the glochids, those tiny hairlike bristles that occur in little tufts on the pads. They are barbed and treacherous and difficult to remove!

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Posted by jmorth (central Illinois) on Nov 27, 2011 11:12 AM

Habitats favored in the Midwest are dry, sandy soil, on exposed cliffs and sandstone glades.
Often found in colonies.
American Indians ate the ripe fruit, pads, buds, and flowers raw, cooked, or dried.

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Discussion Threads about this plant
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