Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Tiger Tongue
Opuntia cacanapa 'Ellisiana'

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Opuntia (op-UN-shee-a) (Info)
Species: cacanapa
Cultivar: Ellisiana

Synonym:Opuntia lindheimeri var. ellisiana
Synonym:Opuntia x ellisiana
Synonym:Opuntia engelmannii x ficus-indica
Synonym:Opuntia ellisiana

10 members have or want this plant for trade.

Cactus and Succulents

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

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
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)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

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

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

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 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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5 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Nomadct On Dec 13, 2014, Nomadct from Old Lyme, CT wrote:

I've ad better luck than dave122, though I'm along the coast of Connecticut (zone 7a) on Long Island Sound. Planted O.Ellisiana 3 years ago on south side of house under eave, in a mix of beach sand/loamy soil and it's doing great! Already about 3 feet tall with 10 huge pads! I had a low last winter of 3 F and my Ellisiana was unfazed. I love the look of cactus near the beach.

I first saw this Opuntia further down the East Coast in Cape Fear, North Carolina and thought I would give it a try. I think key is DRY winter soil and a fast draining soil like we have near the beach. Should also do well on Long Island, and the coast of New Jersey nearby.

Positive whyteboy_9 On Dec 5, 2011, whyteboy_9 from Pueblo, CO (Zone 6a) wrote:

dave12122's comment is very true! I garden in Pueblo, CO about 120 miles south of Denver in a VERY dry winter climate (heavy snowfall is rare, what little moisture we get is during the summer monsoons) and I am very happy with the performance of O. ellisiana. It survived a 10 year freeze with no problem at all (minor tip burn), and actually grew 31 new cladodes this season. I have yet to see flowers, but my plant is still relatively young.

I have found that USDA hardiness zones can be misleading, especially in the case of cacti and succulents. It seems that many varieties can be grown one or even two zones colder in our dry western climates than in the damp eastern zones. I know of many species of Opuntia and Yucca that thrive here that the USDA says do not. I will, when I get a chance, post some photographs of a place I used to visit that has sadly been sacrificed to the bulldozer.

update: On 12/5 and 12/6 2011 we had official overnight lows of -1F and -4F. My large plant was completely unaffected . I had planted a very small immature cladode ( about 3in. by 2in. in size in mid April, the deciduous "leaves" were still present). The cladode was planted in a in a "frost pocket" in my yard as a test of hardiness, as the mother plant is planted in a sheltered location against a south facing wall.
As of today ( 12-09-11) the is no evidence of freeze damage , although the plant is obviously stressed due to its purplish coloration.
O. Ellisiana was listed as hardy zone 7 according to the catalog I bought it from, but in my very dry zone 6a climate it seems to be hardy to at least 5 below, perhaps even 10 below. Other prickly pears that I have heard of success with in my area are chlorotica, some varieties of engelmanii, basilaris, and violacae. As far as I know, O. Chlorotica ( see panayoti kelaidis' picasa page at [] ) is the only trunk forming prickly pear hardy in my area.

Neutral dave12122 On Dec 27, 2010, dave12122 from East Haddam, CT wrote:

This plant did not do well in my zone 6b Connecticut garden. Pads shriveled up and ultimately rotted, even with winter wet protection. I think this plant is not acclimated to regions with slushy, wet, winters. It should be fine in the dry cold of Denver, for example.

Positive hothaus On Apr 14, 2008, hothaus from Seattle, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

My covered, West facing front porch, combined with my neglectful watering habits, kills just about everything... except for this wonderful plant! It survives the winter cold outside in Seattle without a problem. Uncovered, the rain will surely kill it. The back splash from my gutter-less eaves for one season nearly did too! (See picture.)

Positive nevadagdn On Mar 31, 2005, nevadagdn from Sparks, NV (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant a small pot no less!

Neutral Xenomorf On Nov 21, 2004, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

Flowers start out as deep yellow then turns pale orange or reddish later in the day.
It blooms in Late Spring early Summer in May in zone 9b.

Positive palmbob On Jul 22, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Nearly spineless prickly pear from S Texas


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

Alabaster, Alabama
Phoenix, Arizona
San Leandro, California
San Marino, California
Pueblo, Colorado
Old Lyme, Connecticut
Umatilla, Florida
Wichita, Kansas
Gwynn Oak, Maryland
Owings, Maryland
Sparks, Nevada
Albuquerque, New Mexico (2 reports)
La Luz, New Mexico
Simpsonville, South Carolina
Clarksville, Tennessee
Austin, Texas
North Richland Hills, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Seattle, Washington
White Center, Washington

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