Nodding Onion Gardens

Native Plant Nursery

Where Wildflowers Grow

Columbia Station, Ohio, USA


 Opuntia humifusa - Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus

Ohio Native Plant - Natural Range

Opuntia humifusa

To view the natural range of Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus visit the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service website.

Native Plant of the Year - LEAP (Lake Erie Allegheny Partnership for Biodiversity) - Native Plant of the Year 2017. Eastern prickly Pear Cactus is the only native cactus located in the northeast area of the United States
Prickly Pear Cactus blooming
Prickly Pear Cactus blooming
bright yellow flower in full bloom
Lovely, but don't touch! The spines on these native cactus are sharp!
prickly pear cactus seedling
Prickly Pear Cactus seedlings

Wildlife Significance of Prickly Pear Cactus

Pollination - By Insects
Seed Dispersal - Birds, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits

Restoration - Considered secondary plant for

increasing diversity and holding sand in back-dunes

For more details on this plant visit the Illinois Wildflower website

 sharp hair-like spines of Prickly Pear
Sharp hair-like spines of Prickly Pear
Prickly pear cactus about to open
The flower of Opuntia humifusa about to open

Cultivation Information

 Opuntia humifusa

Height - Fairly flat -  5 to 6 inches when mature
Flower Color - Yellow or reddish
Blooms - July - September

Sun - Full to filtered - very poor success when raised in shady area. We transplanted original plant in the middle of growing season from a shady area to one with full sun.

Rock Gardens - Wonderful addition to rock gardens
Hardy Zone - 2 to 10
Soil - Dry
pH - 5.0 to 6.0

Glochids - Are barbed spines which require one to wear gloves when gardening near Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus

Family - Cactaceae 

Prickly Pear cactus flowering
Prickly Pear Cactus flowering

Propagating Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus  

I have attempted propagating this plant from seed purchased from Praire Moon Nursery, sucess rate was limited. Growth of seedlings was extremely slow.  Much better sucess was noticed with pads obtained from a friend five or so years ago. Growth intially was slow but sucuessful when pads were extracted from mother plant and replanted in same area.

One must wear gloves when working with this native cactus or you will sport sharp needles in your fingers for a longer time than you would prefer.
Seed/Plant Provenance  Opuntia humifusa - Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus - Mother plant from a friend - Westlake, Ohio 2013 - Seed Prairie Moon Nursery - 2015. Pads from Nodding Onion 2017 to present