Eastern prickly pear cactus

Opuntia compressa

Photo/Illustration: 
Steve Aitken
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Eastern prickly pear cactus (Opuntia compressa)
Synonyms:  Opuntia humifusa
Genus:  Opuntia
Prickly pear cactus is a clump-forming and semi-prostrate plant. Flattened round-to-oval green pads 2-10 inches across have scattered needle-like spines and tufts of glochids (bristles). Showy bright yellow flowers appear in late spring and summer, maturing to edible, pulpy, red or purple fruit.
Noteworthy Characteristics:  Bristles cause intense skin irritation and are difficult to remove. This plant becomes scraggly as the pads lose water before winter, greening up again in spring.
Care:  Easy to grow in dry, sandy, or gravelly soil. Tolerates clay soil with good drainage. Naturalizes by pads breaking off and rooting.
Propagation:  From separated root stem segments.
Problems:  Cladode rots, zonate leaf spot, black spot, mealybugs, and scale insects. Also bacterial soft rot and viruses.

Overview

Height
6 in. to 12 in.
Spread
1 ft. to 3 ft.
Growth Habit
Clumps
Light
Full Sun to Part Shade
Moisture
Dry
Characteristics
Native,
Showy Flowers
Bloom Time
Spring,
Summer
Flower Color
Primrose Yellow
Uses
Beds and Borders,
Naturalizing
Style
Desert Garden,
Rock Garden
Seasonal Interest
Summer Interest
Type
Cacti and Succulents

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