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Opuntia polyacantha

Pronunciation: Oh-punt-ee-uh poll-ee-uh-kan-thuh
Family: Cactaceae
Common Name: Plains prickly pear
Plant Type:
  • trees, shrubs
  • succulent and cactus
Height to: 3'
Width to: 5'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • 30 to 20ºF ZONE 9
  • 40 to 30ºF ZONE 10
  • 50 to 40ºF ZONE 11
Notes for Identification: Origin: broadly distributed across inland british columbia to saskatchewan south to texas and arizona. Hardiness zones: sunset 13, 18-24 usda 9 - 11 landscape use: stem and flower ground cover accent cactus for desert style gardens, container plant. Form & character: prostrate, diminuative, submissive, yet dangerous, dry, and colorful. Growth habit: slow growth rate, densely branched, prostrate and widely spreading, only 2 to 3' in height. Foliage/texture: stems of all opuntia are jointed into flattened sections called blades or pads which store water. Plains prickly pear cacti are known for their dense arrangement of areoles and their numerous yellowish white spines at each areole, spines range in length from less than 1/4" to 3" long; coarse texture. Flowers & fruits: magenta, apricot, or yellow flowers, 2" to 3" in diameter, on ends of highest pads; pale, oblong, yellowish green fruit in late summer and fall. Seasonal color: consistently blooms in april to may. Temperature: extremely hardy to below 0of. Light: full sun soil: tolerant watering: this cactus is extremely drought tolerant, but an occasional summer soaking will keep pads flush. Pruning: none propagation: as with all opuntia, plains prickly pear easily roots at the basal end of pads, seed (generally unnecessary). Disease and pests: none additional comments: plains prickly pear is a great low growing and spreading accent cactus for a dry desert garden. The genus opuntia was an early name used for some plants by the greek father of modern plant morphology theophrastus of eresos (died in 285 b. C. ). The specific epithet polyacantha means "many thorns" in botanical latin. Plains pricklypear was first described in 1819 by the english gardener, entomologist, and succulent enthusiast adrian haworth (1767-1833). Source: asu
USDA Heat Zones (days above 86ºF):
  • 120 to 150 days ZONE 9
  • 150 to 180 days ZONE 10
  • 180 to 210 days ZONE 11
  • Greater then 210 ZONE 12
Seed photo: 0
Located in: Succulents
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