Prickly Pear

(Opuntia ficus-indica)

A close-up of the spines of a Prickly Pear cactus.

Planted in the specimen beds between the café and the solar field, Prickly Pear is one of the earliest Opuntias recorded by traveling European botanists, listed by Ferdinand Lindheimer in 1768. Prickly Pear is one of the most known names in popular culture for Opuntias, becoming a generalized name applied to all padded cactus. Prickly Pear can grow low, creating a shrubby appearance, or may ascend on a single, tree-like stalk. Spines (leaves) may be absent or irregular in growth.

Its cup-shaped flowers bloom yellow to red and are followed by green, orange, or red fruit.

A highly cultivated species, its origins are not confirmed, though it is likely native to Mexico. There has been significant collection transport of this species, as well as cultivation. It is now naturalized in South Africa, Australia, and the Mediterranean.



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