Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Spineless Prickly Pear

Spineless prickly pear (Opuntia ellisiana) makes a great low maintenance addition to the landscape. They are very heat and drought-tolerant. Spineless prickly pear is ideal for hot dry locations where nothing else will grow, like a sunny south facing wall.

They thrive in dry, well-drained soils in full sun.

Spineless prickly pears lack the long sharp spines of other varieties but can still stick you with its tiny glochids. Glochids appear as white dots that seem evenly spaced on the prickly pear pads and fruits.

These glochids are tiny, splinter size slivers that can be quite irritating. So use gloves and or barbeque tongs when handling. Alternatively, grasp the pads between glochids when handling.

Spineless prickly pear can grow 3’- 4’ tall and much wider if left un-managed. When it’s time to reshape or reduce growth, use barbeque tongs and pruners to prevent getting stuck with glochids. Use the barbeque tongs to hold each pad and cut with pruners at its point of attachment.

Spineless prickly pears flower in late spring or early summer. Flower color changes from yellow

to a pink-salmon.

Edible fruits, also called tunas, turn red-purple when mature and are used fresh or to make jelly.

Prickly pears prefer well-drained soils. Water once every 7-10 days during the summer if there has been no rain. Allow the soil to dry between watering as prickly pears do not like wet feet and will get root rot and die. Do not water prickly pears during the winter months.

It is normal during winter months for Spineless prickly pear to wilt (the pads will droop). When warmer temperatures resume in spring the pads will again stand erect. Our Spineless prickly pear plants grown in Los Lunas, New Mexico survived -20 degree winter temperatures without damage.

Contact Trees That Please Nursery for more information and pricing.

Photos & Narrative By:
Stephen Sain
Staff Plant Physiologist

1 comment:

  1. This cactus looks almost like the ones which were on numerous Cactus Farms in Lakeside California's agricultural past. When I was a kid several of them were still around. Here's a clip from the Lakeside Historical Society. I'm glad someone took pictures.

    Maniscalco Pricly Pear Farms

    Recently the San Diego Wild Animal Park has been doing a Cactus restoration project of sorts bringing back the Coastal Cactus Wren. It was a great article but there were pasts that I really have a hard time with. I've already ragged on the once for outdated old school beliefs and techniques for germinating Tecate Cypress seeds, but this latest Cactus Wren article where they are showing a reliance more on sophisticated technology and data imputs to show them exactly where to plant cactus or establish new habitats to me is way too much. I have a draft I've not published yet which is titled - "Habitat Restoration: High Tech verses Common Sense"

    Hmmmmmmm???? I'll have to wait and see.

    Great article and easier for the rookies not familar or spooked and intimidated by Prickly Pear. Personally I find the very spiny wild varieties as having the most flavour.

    Cheers, Kevin

    PS, BTW, I'm wanting to create a page for you and your company on my "Earth's Internet" blogsite. I've done one for some Nurseries and even Mycorrhizal Applications Inc. I want readers to have some viable references for product purchases. Let me know if it's okay.