Summary details for Opuntia ficus-indica

Sweet prickly pear

Opuntia ficus-indica

Common names: Sweet prickly pear, Barbary fig (English); Turksvy (Afrikaans)

Origin: Mexico

Description

Succulent, densely branched shrub or tree up to 3m high, forming a robust, semi-woody trunk with age. Cladodes (flattened stem segments) waxy grey-green, more than 1.5 x as long as wide, up to 60 cm long,420 cm wide and 2.5-5 cm thick, tapering towards base, varying from heavily spined to virtually spineless. Flowers delicate, rose-like, bright yellow to orange, up to 7cm across. Fruit fleshy, ovoid with flattened tip, up to 9 cm long, with scattered tufts of glochids (fine spines), green at first, later yellow, orange, red or purple when ripe.

Discussion

Only the spiny forms of this species are thought to be very invasive, and they were of immense concern to farmers in South Africa before invasions were stabilised and kept under control by means of highly successful biocontrol agents. It has a very high invasive potential in Namibia.

 

 

Opuntia ficus-indica
Opuntia ficus-indica © Photo: Coleen Mannheimer
Opuntia ficus-indica
Opuntia ficus-indica © Photo: Coleen Mannheimer
Opuntia ficus-indica
Opuntia ficus-indica © Photo: Coleen Mannheimer
Opuntia ficus-indica
Opuntia ficus-indica © Photo: Coleen Mannheimer