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Pest Information

Spreading Prickly-pear

Spreading Prickly-pear

  • Latin Name: Opuntia Humifusa
  • Common Name: Spreading Prickly-pear
  • Other Names: Prickly-pear cactus

Pest Details

Spreading Prickly-pear
Spreading Prickly-pear


Native to North America, and found widely throughout the eastern half of the country and into southern Canada and Mexico.


A perennial with reproduction from either seeds or the vegetative parts, as pads laying on the soil will produce new roots and new plants. Flowering is in the summer, with a large berry-like seed pod forming in late summer. A common plant in dry sandy or rocky soils and occasionally in poorly maintained turf. Plants are able to tolerate burning, and recover to continue growth.


Plants have the typical “prickly-pear” appearance with flattened, wide pads that form the stems of the plants. Leaves are small and scale-like, and appear on young branches but fall from them early in the growth. Spines occur sparsely on the pads in clusters of short brown to white spines. Flowers are yellow and large and showy, occurring in the summer.

Characteristicts Important to Control:

Careful physical removal is a good approach, possibly with a pre-emergent application to control seeds that remain. Well maintained turf and landscape plantings are not very susceptible to this slow-growing plant.

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