Opuntia mesacantha

  • Prickly-pear is a native evergreen succulent found in coastal dunes, sandy riverbeds, and pine forests.
  • It is a fast-growing, shrubby cactus with heights of up to 20 feet (ca. 6 m).
  • Its short trunk may reach 8 inches (ca. 20 cm) in diameter. It grows best in areas that have lots of sun, light, and minimal water.
  • In hot, arid climates it can be grown outdoors in a bed or container.
  • Great for xeriscaping and easy to transplant. Seeds must ripen for a year+ before germination occurs. Edible fruits and leaf pads. Prickly spines and irritating hairs.
  • O. mesacantha is a prostrate plant that may branch in all directions to 1 m across.
  • Cladodes may be spined or unspined and are smooth in outline, obovate or rotund, occasionally elliptical.
  • Spines are stout (0.95-1.3 mm in diameter).
  • Flowers are pure yellow with no red. Fruits are reddish at maturity. Seeds are 5.0-5.9 mm long.
  • O. mesacantha and O. lata are difficult to differentiate in the field, but Adanick et al., 2019 developed a method to measure stomates in the field and differentiate the two taxa easily.
  • Like other eastern prickly pears, O. mesacantha colonizes sandy or rocky areas that become dry between rains.
  • Opuntiamesacantha is tetraploid.


Landscape Location: Container, Patio, Pool/Hardscape,

Landscape Theme: Butterfly Garden.

Drought Tolerant

Garden Design Feature: Accent Attracts: Bees Butterflies Small Mammals Songbirds

Resistance To Challenges: Drought

Problems: Spines/Thorns





Life Cycle:Perennial

Recommended Propagation Strategy: Leaf Cutting Seed

Country Or Region Of Origin: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay

Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):

Heat and drought tolerant.

Edibility: The fruits are edible.

  • opuntia mesacantha


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