Opuntia Miller (1754)

(Greek "opos" = figs sap)
Because of the figs similar fruits or a combination of the Aztec name "nopali" (Spain "nopal" = Opuntia) and
(Latin "pungere" = prick) Prickly Pear.
By the natives as Tuna mentioned. In the 16th century by the Spanish imported and escaped to the climatic favorable Mediterranean region.
The Greek scholar Plinius designated a plant as Opuntia which occurred near the Greek town Opunet.
Curiously enough prevailed the name of the escaped Tuna, it became recognized as genus name later.

tree-like or shrubby, pads flat circular, also dwarf forms with globular pads; spines very different in number, lenght and color
flowers wide opening, mostly on the upper pad edge, yellow, whiteish-yellow, orange or shades of red
fruits large, firgs similar shaped, color different, partly eatable, partly used as fodder; seeds large, broad circular, flat

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from Canada (British Columbia) thru the USA and Mexico to south Chile
steppes and mountains

Growth period

very sunny and hot, a location outdoors is possible and recommend
sufficient watering and fertilize, hardly sensitive to too much moisture
without sufficient fertilizer the plants begin to waste away
best time therefor is from March to May, at least it should be consumed the nitrogen reserves in June
the best is to use a complete fertilizer therefor

Winter period

complete dry at about 42–50 F (6–10°C)


nutritious, permeable to water and porous
addition of some humus, quartz gravel, pumice, expanded slate, expanded clay is recommendable
do not choose the pots too small
Opuntia humifusa (Rafinesque) Rafinesque (1830)
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widespread in the east of the USA
in the northeast of Mexico
frequently on wooded hillsides or on shrubland
in 0–3280 ft (0–1000 m) altitude


procumbent Opuntia
outspread creeping, stem segments 2.8–4.7 in (7–12 cm) long, almost ovoid or circular, dark green
spines occasionally to 1 in (2.5 cm) long, whiteish, base and tip sometimes reddish, with small secundary spines
glochids reddish-brown
flowers to 3.3 in (8.5 cm) large, sulfur-yellow, center occasionally reddish

fruit to 2 in (5 cm) long, club-shaped
seeds compressed

Flowering time

June–July in cultivation
February–August in habitat


Opuntia humifusa is with protection against rain and moisture cold hardy to ca. -4 F (- 20°C).
Synonyms Cactus humifusa Rafinesque (1830)
CITES Appendix II
Description of "Kakteen von A bis Z" by Walter Haage with courtesy by Kakteen-Haage made available.