Opuntia, Prickly Pear Cactus, Tiger Tongue 'Ellisiana'

Opuntia cacanapa

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


Cactus and Succulents

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


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

Bloom Color:



Bright Yellow

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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


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

Centreville, Maryland

Gwynn Oak, Maryland

Owings, Maryland

Sparks, Nevada

Albuquerque, New Mexico (2 reports)

La Luz, New Mexico

Stilwell, Oklahoma

Chapin, South Carolina

Simpsonville, South Carolina

Clarksville, Tennessee

Austin, Texas

North Richland Hills, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

South Jordan, Utah

Seattle, Washington

White Center, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 20, 2017, puzzellus from Raleigh, NC wrote:

My experience falls in line with other posts. I planted a row of mixed opuntia along a downward slope. Near the top, where the drainage was better, they all thrived. Near the bottom where it was usually soggy, they died in the winter. I love these plants, and have purchased many varieties of opuntia. My strategy is to buy some from northern and southern climes. I am in zone 8, but have some off-the-grid rural accreage in zone 7. I plan to try both Elisiana and more cold resistant varieties in both places.


On Apr 25, 2017, longjonsilverz from Centreville, MD wrote:

This a great cactus for anyone who wants a prickly pear but doesn't like the spines. With the exception of a very rare random glochid(tiny spines that irritate the skin and are hard to remove), these are almost touchable without any worries. I have occasionally touched my cacti by accident and 99% of the time there was no problem. In addition to being spineless, they are also tolerant of the wet and cold here in Eastern Maryland (zone 7) with good drainage and lots of sun.


On Feb 29, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This is one of the few opuntias lacking both spines and those pesky glochids (the tiny hooked things that get under your skin).


On Nov 28, 2015, siege2055 from Stilwell, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Easily survived here so far in a low of 1 F degrees BUT, dont let leaves in the fall accumulate around the base of the plant, it does not act as mulch, it acts to retain water and causes rot. Good drainage is very important with this Cactus in my zone 7a. It had more damage from rot than from freezing.


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.


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 n... read more


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.


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.)


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

This plant overwintered...in a small pot no less!


On Nov 21, 2004, Xenomorf from Phoenix, 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.


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

Nearly spineless prickly pear from S Texas