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.

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.

Did You Know?

  • The prickly pear is also known as devil’s tongue. It is the only native cactus that is widespread in the eastern United States.
  • When in bloom, it attracts bees.
  • In some places, people eat prickly pear pads and fruit capsules.

Sources and Additional Information