photo of Opuntia humifusa

Opuntia humifusa

Prickly Pear

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Prickly Pear is New Jersey’s only native cactus! Flat, fleshy, oval, evergreen pads stand erect or lie horizontally on the ground. The...

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Description:

Prickly Pear is New Jersey’s only native cactus! Flat, fleshy, oval, evergreen pads stand erect or lie horizontally on the ground. The pads become somewhat dessicated and shriveled during the winter but plump-up again in the spring. Yellow, ornate flowers develop along the top of each pad and bloom June-July. Each flower is diurnal and blooms for only one day. A red edible fruit will follow fertilization. Flowers, fruits, and pads all offer food for wildlife. The pads and fruit are also edible for humans; however, tiny reddish spikes persist and necessitate much care in handling all parts of this plant. Use Prickly Pear in seaside gardens, rock gardens, sunny borders, dry sandy areas of your yard, or as groundcover.

Plant Details:

Other Common Names: Devil's-tongue

Plant Type: Groundcover

New Jersey Native: Yes

Deer Resistance: Some

Attracts Pollinators and Wildlife: Bees and Other Pollinators, Birds

Salt Tolerance: High

Hardiness Zone: 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b

Physiographic Region: All Regions in NJ

Grows in Special Ecoregions: Barrier Island/Coastal, Pinelands

Soil Characteristics

Soil Type: Sandy

Soil Moisture: Well-drained

Soil pH: Slightly Acidic, Neutral

Light Needs of Plant

Optimal Light: Full Sun

Light Range: Full Sun, Partial Shade

Water Needs of Plant

Soil Moisture: Well-drained

Drought Tolerance: High

Size and Growth Rate

Height: 0.5 - 1 ft

Spread: 0.5 - 3 ft

Growth Rate: Medium