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Smooth Mountain Prickly Pear, Indian Fig, Mission Cactus, Tuberous Prickly Pear

San Diego, CA

Phytoplasma Opuntia infection?

Hello Xenomorf and you cactae experts. I have a problem and palmbob has helped so far. My prickly pear has the "cooties". I'm making light of it but I think I may have to destroy this 5 year old 6'x6' plant.

My Opuntia just started growing half moon pads, no fruit, prolific multiple buds at the same location. Also buds are starting in the middle of the pad. I also see these brown grasshoppers hanging out. Can someone educate me really quickly? My plant is 6 feet tall and has been normal for 5 years. Research says that this problem is spreading in Mexico and they call it "Planta Macho" or male plant (because it does not produce fruit). Studies show fear of spreading and serious impact on prickly pear crops and other species.

This page pretty much describes the problem:

or search pdf title:

Detection of Phytoplasma on Indian Fig (Opuntia ficus-indica Mill)
in Mexico Central Region

Any advise or can you recommend where I should get advise. Help!!!

Thumbnail by olski Thumbnail by olski Thumbnail by olski Thumbnail by olski Thumbnail by olski
Phoenix, AZ(Zone 9b)

Are you growing these plants for the purpose of fruit? or to eat the edible pads? Or just to have in your garden/landscape? Or what?
I have never had this until this year on my Opuntia engelmannii v. subarmata. I considered the new growth that's infected a new Form, namely a Monstrose form. After all, that's what causes Cristate and Monstrose forms in plants is a virus that somehow affects the genetic code (I think).
If you don't want the mutated pads, then I would pluck them off. I don't think I would get rid of the whole plant "yet". See if that does the trick, and if it dosen't, then I would resort to more drastic measures next sprouting season (probably next spring).

San Diego, CA

Thanks for the quick response. I grow for landscape appeal, fruit and nopales. That was the vision for my entire landscape: To eat or harvest as much as possible for decoration and consumption. I agree. I will cut the weirdness and pray for fruit next year. I also recommend put slug and snail bait around the your cactus to minimize infection. Good luck and thanks again.


San Diego, CA

Most of the research is not favorable regarding this mutation. It results in impotent plants, hyper-aggressive growth and often plant declination. Be sure to sanitize your cutting tools and be sure to clean your tools between cutting multiple plants.


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