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PRICKLY PEAR

Obtunia spp.

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Prickly pears typically grow with flat, rounded cladodes, which are flattened stems that resemble and function as a leaf, and are armed with two kinds of spines; large, smooth, fixed spines and small, hairlike prickles called glochids, that easily penetrate skin and detach from the plant. Many types of prickly pears grow into dense, tangled structures. Charles Darwin was the first to note that these cacti have thigmotactic anthers: when the anthers are touched, they curl over, depositing their pollen. This movement can be seen by gently poking the anthers of an open Opuntia flower.

Planning

Difficulty
Easy
Fruiting time
Summer

Harvesting

Harvest the fruits when their skin change to beautiful yellow or red color, depending more on the variety. Squeeze the prickly pears gently and carefully. If they feel firm, it indicates that the fruits are fully ripe. Wear leather gloves for this step as

Propagation

Seed
Plant the seeds in a shady spot all together.

Special features

Geography

Origin
Southwestern United States and Mexico

Environment

Light
Full Sun
Soil moisture
Dry
Soil type
Loam, Sand
Soil PH preference
Neutral
Frost hardiness
Tender

Uses

Personality

Family
Cactaceae
Flower colour
Orange, yellow, pink, white, red
Scent
None

Problems

Mealybugs, spider mites and cochineal might attack it. It is also attacked by fruit flies and moths. Too much water or cold causes rotting. As soon as you detect the softening of tissues, remove the rotten part and treat the infected part with fungicide.

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