New growth on an Opuntia gosseliniana in my yard

     Opuntia is a genus of 200 plus species of cacti native from southern Canada to northern South America. I'm including here the related genera Grusonia, Austrocylindropuntia and Cylindropuntia for convenience. Some lump these all under Opuntia and some separate them. These cacti range in size from tiny plants only a few inches high to towering tree like forms. They include the Prickly Pears and Chollas, which probably represent the most common cacti in cultivation. Opuntia differ from other cacti in producing paddle or cylindrical shaped segments rather than stems with ribs or tubercules. Most have true spines but also have tiny needle like spines called glochids that detach easily and can be very irritating if they penetrate the skin. Some are nearly spineless. Many have colorful flowers and produce edible fruit which is used in the making of jams and jellies. The new growth paddles can also be cooked and eaten and have a flavor like ochra.
     Opuntias can be grown in any good draining cacti mix and appreciate a bit more water than most cacti. They are also reported to be quite cold hardy. Opuntias can be easily propagated from stem segments and root fairly quickly. In fact with some it is the primary means of propagation as little seed may be produced.

I have lots of Opuntias.

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Cylindropuntia versicolor
"Staghorn Cholla"



vestita cristata

Opuntia ramosissima
"Diamond Cholla"


Cylindropuntia fulgida
"Chain Fruit Cholla"

Grusonia invicta
"Devils Cholla"

Opuntia aciculata
"Chenille Prickly Pear"

Opuntia macrocentra

Opuntia violaceae
X basilaris

Opuntia engelmannii
var. subarmata

Cylindropuntia bigelovii
"Teddy Bear Cholla"

Cylindropuntia spinosior
"Cane Cholla"

All images and text are copyright 2006-7 D.S. Franges, unless otherwise noted.