Prickly Pear

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Project Description

Prickly Pear

Opuntia humifusa 


Range/Geographical Distribution: The eastern and mid-western United States from Massachusetts south to Florida, west to New Mexico, and north to Ontario, Canada.

Habitat: Rocky or sandy, well-drained soil. 

Description: Green, flattened, segmented stems or “pads” are paddle shaped and covered in bristles and long spines. 

Size: Can grow to two feet high and four feet wide.

Breeding: Produces waxy yellow flowers three inches long in the spring.  Green, two to three inch fruits then form and turn pink/purple in the fall when they are ripe.

Predators/Ecological Function: Hummingbirds and bees visit the flowers of the prickly pear.

Conservation Status: Listed as endangered or rare in some northeastern states.

Interesting Facts: Prickly pear pads are edible and can be peeled, chopped, sautéed, or diced.  They are said to taste similar to green beans.  The pads will also root easily to start a new plant. 

On the Coast: This cactus lives in sandy areas along Georgia’s coast.  Watch out when hiking through these areas because prickly pear spines can reach one inch in length and are very sharp.

Project Details


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