Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Bunny Ears, Polka Dot Cactus, Angel's Wings, Cegador
Opuntia microdasys

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Opuntia (op-UN-shee-a) (Info)
Species: microdasys (my-kro-DAS-is) (Info)

Synonym:Opuntia microdasys var. microdasys
Synonym:Cactus microdasys
Synonym:Opuntia macrocalyx

16 members have or want this plant for trade.

Cactus and Succulents

12-18 in. (30-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow
Chartreuse (Yellow-Green)

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium
By grafting
By simple layering

Seed Collecting:
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

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to view:

By palmbob
Thumbnail #1 of Opuntia microdasys by palmbob

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #2 of Opuntia microdasys by Xenomorf

By palmbob
Thumbnail #3 of Opuntia microdasys by palmbob

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #4 of Opuntia microdasys by Xenomorf

By Xenomorf
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By Xenomorf
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By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #7 of Opuntia microdasys by Xenomorf

There are a total of 13 photos.
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5 positives
2 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive tvksi On Jul 17, 2010, tvksi from Paris, TX (Zone 7b) wrote:

Have had Bunny Ears many years. Wish I had my camera operating to take a recent pic showing one of the original pots. here is the pot in 08/04/2004. Now it is so huge I'm afraid the scenic bowl will split. It has supplied many family and friends with specimens as well as filled a large part of small garden. Here in NE Tx zone 8 a a lot of it froze this past winter but a lot of it survived. I keep several pots going and always some babies for friends. neighbors. I like it as it is an almost fail- proof plant : )

Neutral Baja_Costero On Apr 14, 2010, Baja_Costero from Baja California
Mexico (Zone 11) wrote:

Very easy to start, very easy to grow, quite ornamental. Requires almost no water (even for a cactus). Many variations in color and growth habit can be found.

Extreme caution with the glochids on this plant, which separate very easily and travel all around, especially if the plant moves or there's wind. If you put one of these in the ground, don't plan to do any weeding or pruning (or playing!) within a yard of it.

The best way to remove these particular spines is duct tape. Press tape down carefully going in one direction, remove it quickly going the other. Follow up with tweezers in good light.

Neutral Xenomorf On Jun 9, 2005, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

This species/variety (O. microdasys var. microdasys) has reddish brown glochids and the areoles are set further apart than Opuntia microdasys v. rufida.

(Update 2/12/2011)
This plant is very vigorous and spreading grower if it's in the ground. Just today I pruned back three heaping wheel barrows loads of cuttings from one plant.

Positive deborahgrand On Aug 16, 2004, deborahgrand from Baton Rouge, LA wrote:

I started mine from a small cutting from a friend's plant in New Orleans. Kept it in a pot (which, by the way, had to move by wrapping it with bubble wrap and then newspaper to keep it from KILLING everyone who touched it). Pot broke several years ago and plant naturalized into ground and is still growing strong. Doesn't bloom much, but doesn't get full sun. Plan to replant it and maybe some clones under some windows that have a history of getting broken into. That'll teach 'em.

Positive TucsonJen On Jul 8, 2004, TucsonJen from Tucson, AZ (Zone 9a) wrote:

I read this about it: "Cute when purchased in a tiny pot at the discount store, once in ground it will cover a large area in a few years." "The plants are easily controlled with a bulldozer while wearing a chemical warfare suit." I think that's from an Arizona Native Plant Society Brochure.

I put mine in an area where it can go wild without endangering my family. I love it.

Positive albleroy On Jan 31, 2004, albleroy from Wavre/ greenhous +/- 2500 species, IA wrote:

The easiest way to take the small spines (glochids) out of the skin is to malax well you chewing gum in your mounth and then to roll it a little time over the place affected of the hands. You will see, all will be away.

Positive henryr10 On Dec 29, 2003, henryr10 from Cincinnati, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

A trick I was taught to use on opuntia and other cactus,
as well as fiberglass splinters, is to coat the area affected w/ Elmer Glue and let it dry.
Then peel the glue off. Almost all the splinters will pull out w/ the glue.
Saves a BUNCH of aggravation!

Negative palmbob On Nov 1, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I love the look of this Opuntia, but it is deceptively nasty. The soft, fuzzy looking spines stick to your skin with the slightest brush-by and then they are hard to get off... most attempts to pull these itty bitty spines just pushed them in further or breaks them off at the skin level... washing them off with a sharp stream of water works the best. Otherwise it's a lot of work with a magnifying glass and a good pair of tweezers. Also, just moving the plant about will dislodge spines and they can blow into your eyes and nose/mouth. Rinsing plant with water is supposed to help keep this from happening, just before you move it. This species is also very prone to rot if watered to much via sprinklers. Rain water never seems to hurt it though.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

El Mirage, Arizona
Goodyear, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona (2 reports)
Tucson, Arizona
Long Beach, California
San Diego, California (2 reports)
Spring Valley, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Conway, South Carolina
Clarksville, Tennessee
Dallas, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Saint George, Utah

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