PlantsPrickly Pears→Eastern Prickly Pear (Opuntia humifusa)

Common names:
Give a thumbs up Eastern Prickly Pear
Give a thumbs up Devil's-Tongue
Give a thumbs up Devil's Tongue
Give a thumbs up Prickly Pear
Give a thumbs up Low Prickly Pear

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
Water Preferences: Mesic
Dry Mesic
Plant Height: 6 to 12 inches
Plant Spread: 18 to 36 inches
Leaves: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy
Edible to birds
Other: 1.5 to 2 inch, juicy green fruits mature to red and purple. Each fruit contains numerous small seeds.
Fruiting Time: Late summer or early fall
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: Yellow
Other: Often with red center.
Bloom Size: 2"-3"
Flower Time: Late spring or early summer
Suitable Locations: Xeriscapic
Uses: Provides winter interest
Will Naturalize
Edible Parts: Leaves
Seeds or Nuts
Eating Methods: Raw
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
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
With thorns/spines/prickles/teeth

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.

[ Reply to this comment | Give a thumbs up ]

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!

[ Reply to this comment | Give a thumbs up ]

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.

[ Reply to this comment | Give a thumbs up ]

Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
So cool by gardengus Jul 8, 2015 11:30 AM 3
Florida Natives? (Succulents, specifically?) by sedumzz May 15, 2021 4:29 AM 1
Opuntia (Prickly Pear) Cactus Frozen?? by AliviaM Feb 18, 2021 7:05 AM 10
Hardiest Plant in Savannah by JulieChicago Dec 12, 2020 7:18 PM 6
Opuntia humifusa by Hallow Oct 5, 2020 5:59 PM 3
The never ending search. by Hallow Aug 7, 2020 7:48 PM 15
Can anybody tell me more about my plants? by Fountain30 Aug 9, 2020 2:54 AM 24
How do I start a new cactus plant? by BobinAVCA May 9, 2020 10:20 AM 17
Looking to Confirm ID's (Mostly cactuses, some others) by Macrocentra May 2, 2020 10:26 AM 7
Wildflower Chat by KFredenburg Nov 30, 2020 12:19 PM 49
The COVID_19 Picture Diversion thread by mcvansoest Jun 9, 2021 6:00 PM 2,172

« Add a new plant to the database

» Search the Prickly Pears Database: by characteristics or by cultivar name

« See the general plant entry for Prickly Pears (Opuntia)

« The Prickly Pears Database Front Page

« The Plants Database Front Page

Today's site banner is by skopjecollection and is called "Lewisia"

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.