Bunny ears

Bunny ears

Opuntia microdasys

Common Name:

Bunny ears

Scientific Name:

Opuntia microdasys

Alternative common names:

Angel`s wings, golden-bristle cactus, polka-dot cactus.


The bunny ears cactus forms a dense shrub, about 40-60 cm tall, with pad-like stems 6-15cm long and 4-12cm wide. It has no spines, but rather numerous white or yellow glochids (hair-like prickles) that are 2-3mm long and found in dense clusters. The flowers emerge from the top edges of the pads in April and May. 

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Northern Mexico

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 1b.

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Northern Cape.

How does it spread?

It is easily transported by animals, people, water and vehicles.

Why is it a problem?

Competes with indigenous species. Thickets under trees prevent access to the shade for domestic and wild animals. It has very sharp spines known as glochids that can cause pain, severe irritation and infection if embedded in the skin. It has the potential to form extensive, dense stands, much like prickly pear cactus, and could reduce agricultural productivity over large areas of semi-arid grazing land.

What does it look like?

Leaves: None.

Flowers: The flowers are up to 5cm across and have broad yellow tepals, yellow anthers and dark green stigma lobes.

Fruits/seeds: It has egg-shaped, red to purplish, spineless but glochid-dotted fruits.

Does the plant have any uses?

It is used as ornamental plant.

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