Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Prickly Pear Cactus, Palma-Brava, Opuntia
Opuntia monacantha

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Opuntia (op-UN-shee-a) (Info)
Species: monacantha (mon-ah-KANTH-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Cactus monacantha
Synonym:Opuntia arechavaletae

5 members have or want this plant for trade.

Cactus and Succulents

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
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

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction
Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Flowers are fragrant
This plant is suitable for growing indoors
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings
From softwood cuttings
Allow cut surface to callous over before planting
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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By Monocromatico
Thumbnail #1 of Opuntia monacantha by Monocromatico

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There are a total of 16 photos.
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4 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive aliceg1369 On Aug 21, 2007, aliceg1369 from Raeford, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

These cactus grow all over here in south eastern NC. My daughter dug some up out of her back yard two years ago, and she gave a pot to me. I left it in the pot on the porch until this year, we planted it in the yard. It spent two winters in the pot outside with no problem. This is a super hardy cactus, braving even the worst elements, it was even covered with a coat of ice during an ice storm last winter. The blooms are beautiful, a nice warm yellow. I would recommend this cactus to anyone, because it is virtually carefree.

Positive DiOhio On Jul 2, 2004, DiOhio from Corning, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

I assumed my winter-hardy cactus was Prickly Pear, but seeing other photos of Prickly Pear blooms, I'm not sure what mine is. I've submitted a photo. My blooms have a lot of red in the center.
This cactus looks dead in our Ohio winters.......turning soft and laying flat on the ground. But come warmer weather, it starts to perk right up. After two winters with -15*F temps, it is still putting out more flowers and growth every year.

Positive JJBS On Jun 12, 2004, JJBS from Grand Blanc, MI (Zone 5b) wrote:

Last year on the Garden Tour for our county, we saw a large patch of prickly pear (6' x 3') growing quite happily. I was amazed and tickled by the thought of growing cactus in the middle of Michigan. The hostess explained that prickly pear is native to Michigan, though mainly on the west side. She cut off three lobes; told us to lay them in a dark, dry place until the cut callused over; dump out a bag of sand in the garden then lay the cutting on top of the sand. We did all that really without much hope. But the cactus not only made it through a really tough winter, it is busily adding on new lobes this spring. It is growing on the west side of the yard, in an upper garden, with little to no winter protection. Under the bag of sand we have really heavy clay, but it is doing fine.

Positive Michaelp On Apr 10, 2004, Michaelp from Glendale, UT (Zone 5a) wrote:

I grow the varieties that don't have too many thorns,I eat the fruit-and make preserves and syrup from them-the fruit is good ripe, right from the plant--some care must be used to keep from getting stickers in your hands or throat--always pick with gloves or salad tongs or tools, like pliers,wash and scrub with scrub bud or brush--it will remove the tiny thorns--if making preserves or syrup-boil, then bag and squeese the juice out with rubber gloves to protect your hands from hot fruit and stickers--by wringing out the bag--eating raw fruit, and cactus apple syrup on pancakes are some of my best childhood memories--I used a sharp stick to pick the fruit-sticking it in the top center of the fruit and prying down to remove the fruit-than I peeled the skin and stickers off with my pocket knife-still holding the fruit with the stick--and ate it off the stick--
The young leaves can be eaten like string beans or asparagus--by picking the leaves, scrubing off the thornes ,slicing in 1/4 inch strips and boiling or canning --they are sold in stores as "no poletos" [wrong spelling I am sure] [no little stickers]I realy like them--as a child I ate them raw from the plant, when far from home and hungry---


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

Chuichu, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Boulder, Colorado
Brooksville, Florida
Niceville, Florida
Chicago, Illinois
Niles, Illinois
Cannelton, Indiana
Shawnee Mission, Kansas
Salem, Kentucky
Frederick, Maryland
Adrian, Michigan
Fenwick, Michigan
Grand Blanc, Michigan
Holland, Michigan
Ray, Michigan
Cole Camp, Missouri
Jefferson, New York
Staten Island, New York
West Kill, New York
Flat Rock, North Carolina
Oriental, North Carolina
Raeford, North Carolina
Smithfield, North Carolina
Glouster, Ohio
Youngstown, Ohio
Mcallen, Texas
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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