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PlantFiles: Cliff Prickly Pear, Hedgehog Prickly Pear, Juniper Prickly Pear, Heacock's Prickly Pear
Opuntia polyacantha

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Opuntia (op-UN-shee-a) (Info)
Species: polyacantha (pol-lee-uh-KAN-tha) (Info)

Synonym:Opuntia polyacantha var. polyacantha
Synonym:Opuntia heacockiae
Synonym:Opuntia missouriensis
Synonym:Opuntia rutila
Synonym:Opuntia xanthostemma

3 members have or want this plant for trade.

Cactus and Succulents

6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)
15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

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 Spring
Late Spring/Early 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
Allow cut surface to callous over before planting

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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1 positive
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral Xenomorf On Jan 9, 2011, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

In Anderson's book "The Cactus family" 2001, it states that the main flower color for all the varieties he lists is simply Yellow. But there are apparently shades of red that are within the varieties also, which could be possibly considered as a cultivar or a sub-variety or a forma, etc.

A very common synonym of this palnt is Opuntia erinacea var. utahensis
More not-so-common synonyms of this plant, (Opuntia polyacantha var. polyacantha) are: Opuntia media, Opuntia splendens, Opuntia ursus-horribilis & Opuntia barbata.

Positive peejay12 On Feb 24, 2010, peejay12 from Porthleven, Helston, Cornwall
United Kingdom (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is one of many opuntias that can be grown very easily in the UK.
I spent ages constructing a huge raised bed with gritty, gravelly soil - 20 tons of it -specially for cacti and other succulents, but a friend near me has been growing this plant in ordinary clay loam for years - and it's perfect!
We had -8 C last year, and it was undamaged. Because of its close-together spines snails leave it alone - unlike many other Opuntias.
I like its bright colour and its long white spines - a handsome plant.

Neutral darylmitchell On Jun 7, 2005, darylmitchell from Saskatoon, SK (Zone 3a) wrote:

Also known as the Plains Prickly Pear cactus, it is one of the most cold-hardy cacti. It is adapted to the extended periods of freezing temperatures, and can be found in Canada from British Columbia to Ontario. It prefers dry hillsides and light soils, sand or clay. It has long spines, forms low-growing multi-branched clumps, and produces orange or yellow blooms in early July.

A friend of mine has one growing in next to his house in between the cracks of a concrete driveway. He has no idea how it got there, but it has come back every year and bloomed nicely. If that doesn't tell you how rugged it is, I don't know what will.


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

Carrollton, Georgia
Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota
South Saint Paul, Minnesota
Klamath Falls, Oregon
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
Elmwood, Wisconsin

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