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Prickly Pear

Opuntia humifusa

Prickly pear has large, showy yellow flowers that bloom in late spring and early summer. (dogtooth77/Flickr)
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Prickly pear has large, showy yellow flowers that bloom in late spring and early summer. (dogtooth77/Flickr)

Prickly pear is a native perennial cactus with large, showy yellow flowers that bloom in late spring and early summer.

Appearance:

  • Bright yellow flowers that are 2-3 inches in diameter
  • Flowers sometimes have a red center
  • Flowers bloom in May-July
  • Thick, green, flattened pads covered with needle-like spines
  • Grows to 6 inches tall

Habitat:

  • Found in dry, sandy or rocky areas
  • Grows in full sun

Range:

  • Grows throughout the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

  • After blooming, the plant produces fleshy, red, cone-shaped fruit capsules that contain seeds
  • Fruit capsules turn reddish-brown as they mature
  • Animals such as birds, raccoons and opossums eat the fruit capsules and spread the plant’s seeds
  • New seedlings grow in spring
  • Also reproduces asexually when pads root into the ground

Other Facts:

  • Also known as devil’s tongue
  • The only native cactus that is widespread in the eastern United States
  • Attract bees when in bloom
  • In some places, people eat prickly pear pads and fruit capsules

Sources and Additional Information:




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