Opuntia humifusa (Raf.) Raf. - Eastern Prickly Pear


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Opuntia humifusa - (image 1 of 4)



Family: Cactaceae


Sandy black oak savanna, dry sandy soils. Also on xeric, rocky slopes.




Southern NY and MA to southern Ontario and MN, south to FL and eastern TX.


Fibrous-rooted perennial. Stems branched and jointed; joints flattened and oblong to suborbicular, to 12 cm; areoles mostly spineless with tufts of glochids. Flowers epigynous with a short hypanthium; petals 4-8 cm wide, bright yellow, often reddish at the base; outer sepals subulate to lanceolate. Fruit red to purple, to 5 cm, fleshy.


Flowers early June to late July.

Wetland indicator: Upland

A very attractive plant in full bloom. This particular species of cactus doesn't normally have many thorns. Instead it has small tufts of extremely sharp bristles called glochids. These embed in skin easily when touched and need to be carefully removed with tweezers.



Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second Ed.

The New York Botanical Garden. Bronx, NY


Swink, F. and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region.
Indiana Academy of Science. The Morton Arboretum. Lisle, Illinois.



 Michael Hough 2005