Opuntia Polyacantha

Opuntia Polyacantha Care Guide
Opuntia Polyacantha is also known as Plains Prickly Pear, Hair-spine Cactus, Hairy Prickly Pear, Panhandle Prickly Pear, Starvation Prickly Pear, El Paso Prickly Pear, Grizzly-bear Prickly Pear, Navajo Bridge Prickly Pear

Opuntia Polyacantha grows up to 16 feet tall. It forms low mats of erect or spreading pads. The succulent green pads are oval or circular.

Its areoles are tipped with woolly brown fibers and glochids. The areoles spines are of variable in size and shape. They can be stout or thin, straight or curling, and a variety of colors.

The flowers can be yellow or magenta in color. The fruit is cylindrical, brownish, dry, spiny, fleshy and edible. Remove spines from the fruit and pads before preparing to eat. Find Optunia recipes and learn more about edible succulents here.

Opuntia Polyacantha Care and Propagation Information:


Zones: 3a - 9b

Opuntia Polyacantha generally prefers hot temperatures, but will tolerate a wide range of temperatures.

Water Needs

  • Low
  • Occasional

Tends to prefer well-drained soil. Will grow in containers, rock gardens and in desert like conditions. Opuntia Polyacantha would be perfect to use in xeriscaping as it is drought tolerant.

Soil Requirements

  • Average
  • Well-Drained
  • Rocky
  • Gritty

Opuntia Polyacantha prefers sandy/gritty soils, and prefers well-drained soil.

Light Requirements

  • Sun

Younger Optunia do well in bright sunlight. Mature planter prefer full sun. Growing Opuntia Polyacantha indoors requires as much direct sunlight as possible, west or south facing windows tend to do best.

Ideal Growing Location

  • Outdoors
opuntia-polyacantha propagation tips

How do you propagate Opuntia Polyacantha?

Opuntia Polyacantha is propagated from:
  • Seed
  • Cuttings

The pads will root to form new plants. Although, they can become invasive in some regions, so keep that in mind before propagating and planting.

To propagate, use a clean cutting tool to cut at the joint. Let the cutting callous for 2 to 3 days. Once calloused, the cutting can be placed in a container or directly in the soil to root. Cuttings will usually root in 2 to 6 weeks.

Does Opuntia Polyacantha Flower?

Yes, it flowers during:

  • Spring

Does Opuntia Polyacantha go dormant?

There is no dormancy information for this succulent.

Is Opuntia Polyacantha poisonous?

Yes, it is known to cause issues in:

  • Humans
The glochids (barbed hair clusters) can cause a severe skin irritation upon contact.


Opuntia heacockiae, Opuntia heacockul, Opuntia missouriensis, Opuntia polyacantha var. arenaria, Opuntia rhodantha, Opuntia rutila, Tunas polyacantha, Opuntia arenaria, Opuntia erinacea var. rhodantha

Pictures of Opuntia Polyacantha

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