Prickly Pear Cactus – Wild Weeds

Wild Weeds – Weed of the Month

Prickly Pear Cactus

Opuntia humifusa

light green cactus in grass


Prickly Pear Cactus is a perennial succulent, fleshy and armed with two types of barbed bristles. This cactus has long, fixed spines, and glochids or hairlike bristles. Cactuses don’t have leaves but do have flattened cladodes, commonly called ‘pads’. You’ll find this plant occurring naturally in scrub, scrubby flatwoods, sandhills, coastal strands, ruderal sites and dry, open areas.

This plant blooms with large, bright yellow flowers that have a waxy feel. Flowers are attractive to pollinators, especially native bees. Flowers turn to pear-shaped fruit which begins as green and hard but matures into soft, red fruit. Fruit is also covered in fine bristles. Fruit is commonly enjoyed by birds, small mammals, and gopher tortoises but is also edible to humans once they have been de-bristled.

Learn more about the plant characteristics here:

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Posted: December 1, 2023

Category: Agriculture, Conservation, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Forests, Horticulture, Natural Resources, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Extension, Wildlife
Tags: Natural Resources, NFLAG, Wild Weeds

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