Check out the winners in our Annual Photo Contest Here

Opuntia Species, 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


Cactus and Succulents

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


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)

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 Spring

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

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds


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)

Los Angeles, California

San Diego, California

Spring Valley, California

Molino, Florida

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Apr 2, 2016, Sicula from North Port, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Can anyone tell me if this fruit of this cactus is edible?



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.


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

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


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.


On Apr 14, 2005, Xenomorf from Phoenix, 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.


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.