Prickly pear

Opuntia ficus-indica


The Prickly pear is one of the largest species of cacti with a long history of use by indigenous cultures throughout the Southwest and Mexico. This species can eventually grow with an upright habit 10-18 ft. tall with with long medium green flattened pads, 12-18 in. long. Pale yellow to white flowers occur in spring and are followed by large edible fruit that are either red, orange or yellow in color. Bristle-like spines are common; different selections of this species are grown and will have greater or fewer spines.

Prickly pear is currently a popular species for agriculture and garden plantings in subtropical and Mediterranean climate zones around the world for its fruit. It is is also highly popular as a specimen and accent plant in Southwestern, Mediterranean and arid garden plantings within the Inland Empire. It is among our most drought-adapted plants that survives long periods of heat and drought by storing moisture in its thickened stems and pads.

Plant Type: Cacti
Foliage Character: Succulent
Habit: Upright, Spreading, Clumping
Growth Rate: Moderate
Foliage Color: Pale green
Flower Color: Yellow, White
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Drought, Aridity, All day sun
Function: Wildlife value, Specimen, Slopes, Screening, Rock gardens, Flowering accent plant, Background plant
Height: 10 ft. – 18 ft.
Width: 10 ft. – 18 ft.