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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)
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:

The prickly pear has bright yellow flowers that are 2 to 3 inches in diameter and sometimes have a red center. These flowers bloom May to July. The cactus' thick, green, flattened pads are covered with needle-like spines. It grows to 6 inches tall.

Habitat:

Prickly pear is found in dry, sandy or rocky areas and 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. Prickly pear can also reproduce 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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