Prickly Pear Cactus - Indian Fig
(Eastern Prickly Pear - Devil's Tongue)
Opuntia humifusa - Rafinesque
Cactaceae (Cactus) Family

Prickly Pear has flat, fleshy green pads. The plant spreads and forms clumps to several feet wide and 2 to 3 feet tall. The pads are covered with clusters of short, reddish-brown, barbed bristles (glochids). Some plants will have no spines, and few flowers. Its preferred habitat is sandy areas and open rocky sites. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.

The leaves are small, brown, soon falling away. The adult pad aerole will usually have 0-2 spines, one spine will be shorter than the other.

The flowers are 2 to 3 inches wide, numerous sepals, petals, and stamens. On some plants all the flowers will be yellow, while others will have yellow flowers with reddish centers. Flowers occur in the summer.

Fruit is green to dull purple berry that is edible.

This showy native cactus is the only cactus widespread in the east and is occasionally transplanted into northern gardens. The east coast and western varieties usually have all yellow flowers, while the inland plants will have tinges of red at the center. It is not unusual, however, to see large clusters of plants in the Escambia region that have yellow flowers.

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