Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Chenille Prickly Pear, Old Man Whiskers
Opuntia aciculata

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Opuntia (op-UN-shee-a) (Info)
Species: aciculata (ass-sik-yoo-LAY-ta) (Info)

Synonym:Opuntia lindheimeri var. aciculata
Synonym:Opuntia engelmannii var. aciculata

7 members have or want this plant for trade.

Cactus and Succulents

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

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

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 Spring


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

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

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds

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By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #1 of Opuntia aciculata by Xenomorf

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #2 of Opuntia aciculata by Xenomorf

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #3 of Opuntia aciculata by Xenomorf

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #4 of Opuntia aciculata by Xenomorf

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #5 of Opuntia aciculata by Xenomorf

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #6 of Opuntia aciculata by Xenomorf

By leeann6
Thumbnail #7 of Opuntia aciculata by leeann6

There are a total of 22 photos.
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3 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Peterthecactusguy On Apr 28, 2012, Peterthecactusguy from Black Canyon City, AZ wrote:

I bought one of these at Walmart (yes I hate Walmart but they are closeby and they have nice plants usually) The flowers ARE not yellow as describe in Anderson's TCF or other books. However they are red-orange like mentioned. I call mine Vlad the Impaler because of all the dead flys that were stuck in the glochids. They are sort of a pain if you bump into the plant, however mine is inclosed due to javelina attack..

It grows fairly quickly and despite being from Texas actually does quite well in BCC.

Neutral frostweed On Oct 26, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Chenille Prickly Pear, Opuntia aciculata, is Endemic to Texas.

Positive grusonia On Jul 7, 2006, grusonia from Belen, NM wrote:

Good garden plant in dry USDA Zone 7 or warmer climates(will take more cold in dry climates than moist). Very ornamental, flowers vary from yellow to magenta, but most garden plants of the species are orange-red.

Positive Xenomorf On Apr 14, 2005, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

Several reliable sources report the flowers as being 'yellow'. As of yet, I have not seen a single photo or plant with yellow flowers. Every photo/plant I've seen of this species has only red-orange flowers. I even considered the variety that's named "Opuntia aciculata var. orbiculata" to be the one with red-orange flowers, but the word 'orbiculata' translates into "globose, globular, spheric, ball-shaped, global, spherical, circular, orbiculate, round" which is probably referring to the stem segments (pads).
Nevertheless, the flowers are attractive.

Neutral TucsonJen On Oct 14, 2004, TucsonJen from Tucson, AZ (Zone 9a) wrote:

Our school "garden" has this one listed as "Cowboy Whiskers" but I've never seen it identified with that name anywhere else. Neither common name indicates the intensity with which the glochids embed themselves into skin nor the sting they inflict.


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

Anniston, Alabama
Gadsden, Alabama
Black Canyon City, Arizona
Chandler, Arizona
Hereford, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona (3 reports)
San Diego, California
Spring Valley, California
Molino, Florida
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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