Large flowered prickly pear

Large flowered prickly pear

Opuntia humifusa (Cactaceae)

Common Name:

Large flowered prickly pear

Scientific Name:

Opuntia humifusa (Cactaceae)


Alternative common names:

Creeping prickly pear; devil’s tongue (English)

Description:

Succulent, low, spreading shrublet up to 30cm high with prostrate or reclining grey-green stems that are flattened. Spines are absent and small pointed leaves are prominent on young stems. Large, showy golden-yellow flowers usually with orange or red in the throat appear from October to December followed by red or purple succulent fruit.

Additional Information


Where does this species come from?

North and Central America (south-western United States and Mexico)

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

Existing legislation: CARA 2002 - Category 1 NEMBA - Category 1b

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

All Provinces of South Africa

How does it spread?

Seed dispersal.

Why is it a problem?

Competes with and replaces indigenous species. Dense infestations reduce the grazing potential and hence the carrying capacity of the land, and restrict access by domestic and wild animals. The very spiny cladodes adhere to passing animals, and the barbed spines cause severe injuries. Spines become entangled in sheep's wool and cause downgrading of the wool. All these factors combine to cause the drastic devaluation of agricultural land.

What does it look like?

General description: Succulent, low, spreading shrublet up to 30cm high with prostrate or reclining grey-green stems that are flattened.
Leaves: Small pointed leaves prominent on young stems.
Flowers: Large, showy golden-yellow flowers usually with orange or red in the throat from October to December.
Fruit/seeds: Red or purple succulent fruit.

Does the plant have any uses?

Ornamental.

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