Species

Opuntia humifusa

Common Name

Prickly pear

Habitat

Sandhills, pine flatwoods,
coastal scrub

Flowering Time

March – August

Distribution

There are over 200 species of prickly pear cactus. Most species are found in Southwestern North America, Mexico, Central and South America. This prickly pear is found throughout the eastern U.S.

Description

Prickly pear is a low-growing, spreading cactus with oblong, flattened pads, 2-6 inches long. Some of the pads have sharp spines. The showy, bright yellow flowers are 3-4 inches across. The flowers attract several pollinators, including leafcutter bees, the flower scarab, and the cochineal insect. The reddish, green edible fruit are call tunas. The pulp is ruby red and tastes a little like watermelon. Prickly pear is threatened by a non-native Cactoblastis moth.

Interesting fact

Prickly pear has been used as food and medicines for thousands of years. The plants were so important to the Aztecs that they named cities for them. (e.g. Tenochtitlan)

Photos

GPS Coordinates

27.570255; – 81.505986

References

Archbold Biological Station
Floridata Description
Forest Service Description
Florida Wildflowers in the Natural Communities by Walter Kingsley Taylor, University Press of Florida ©1998

Art by Mollie Doctrow


2011-2015 Prickly Pear Shrine Box Journal Entries