Prickly Pear, Barbary Fig (Opuntia ficus-indica var. decumana)

Acton, CA(Zone 8b)

Prickly Pear, Barbary Fig
Opuntia ficus-indica var. decumana

Huntington GArdens, Pasadena, California

Thumbnail by palmbob
Belfield, ND(Zone 4a)


We have a report at the helpdesk that this is actually Opuntia ficus-indica var. decumana

What are your thoughts?


Acton, CA(Zone 8b)

could be... can't argue with experts... was it Xenomorf?

Belfield, ND(Zone 4a)

Yes, it was. I'll move the photo. Thanks!

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

Just a note to clarify...
It turns out that the 'Opuntia lanceolata' name is no longer in use and that the plant was deemed a couple times by different authors to be a variety or form of O. ficus-indica. So we had to go back as far as Britton & Rose to find that the original 'variety' name was 'decumana'.

San Diego, CA

Question: Is this growing from one pad or multiple pad plantings?

Acton, CA(Zone 8b)

That is a single plant

San Diego, CA

Thanks palmbob,

First, much respect to all that post info in this forum. I have been a follower since 2009 since I re-landscaped/re-built after the 2007 Witch Creek Wildfire in San Diego. No sympathy requested. LOL While I am not an expert like you folks, humbly submitted, I am a quick study and greatly appreciate any info.

Specifically, I have a few pads that seem to be var. decumana and like the pics under that name, their seems to be be one tht has huge elongated very thick pads and one that has the same form but smaller and thinner. Any comments about attributes of the two are greatly appreciated. I eat the pads and fruit of the and lynnwood I have room for one more in ground. The other will go in a pot for later consideration.

The "Y" shaped piece is the samller/thin and the (2) single pads are the larger/thicker variety

Thanks in advance for any feedback.


Thumbnail by olski
Acton, CA(Zone 8b)

looks like the same thing... I have one and they grow easily from cuttings... either laid flat on the soil surface, or planted in any position you like. So far, all have grown well for me.

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

Yep, var. decumana. Which unlike the regular main variety, this one will occasionally sprout a new pad from the face (or flat side) of another pad.

San Diego, CA

Thanks for responding Xenomorf,

I think there is still an issue that has not been explained. If you look at palmbob's photo and other photos of the variety you can see a distinct difference in the thickness, color and size of the pads. You have to look closely at my photo to tell the difference. There is a color difference as well. palmbob's plant is much darker than the other photos of the plant. The plant that I took the pad was darker as well. In summary, this variety seems to have a variety. One is light green, relatively thin pads and less elongated. the other is darker, very thick pads and more elongated. Help me with my naivete'.

Acton, CA(Zone 8b)

may be also how it is grown, soil variety, sun exposure, fertilization, heat, etc. May not actually be a variety. But could be. I have a plant in my yard that looks to be about the same color as that in the photo and there are more growing 'wild' around here in the San Fernando Valley.

Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

olski, Yes, I see what you are saying about the differences, but there is a lot of truth in what Palmbob says about the growing conditions. I have seen slightly different variations of decumana as well as the regular ficus-indica. The different variations could have undergone slight genetic adaptations over the last centuries, seeing as how this species/variety has been spread the world over by travelers and traders for that long and been grown in nearly every country that has an accommodating climate. If it "is" different enough to be officially described and named as a separate variety, then the experts higher up on the ladder will have to do that which will undoubtably be very complicated knowing the history of this plant.
As far as the color, There are a number of factors that could affect it: Cloudy day vs. incadescent lights, etc = Lighting. Another is soil nutrient concentrations, etc.
The size of the pads...A difference of Soil nutrients/Light/Water, etc.

San Diego, CA

Thanks all for the feedback.

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