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Erect pricklypear
Opuntia stricta

Copyright by: James Johnson
Eastern Cuba, 2013

General Landscape Uses: Accent or specimen shrub.

Availability: Grown by one or two native plant nurseries in South Florida. Available in Sanibel at the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation (239-472-2329).

Description: Medium bushy succulent shrub, usually armed with yellow spines.

Dimensions: Typically 3-6 feet in height. Usually about as broad as tall.

Growth Rate: Moderate.

Range: Southeastern United States south to the Monroe County Keys; West Indies.

Plant Map Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

 Map of suggested ZIP codes from South Florida north to southern Brevard, Osceola, Polk, and Pasco counties.

 Map of ZIP codes with habitat recommendations from the Monroe County Keys north to Martin and Charlotte counties.

Habitats: Pinelands and coastal uplands, occasionally inland.

Soils: Moist to periodically inundated brackish sandy or limestone soils, with or without humusy top layer.

Nutritional Requirements: Low to moderate; it can grow in nutrient poor soils or soils with some organic content.

Salt Water Tolerance: Moderate; tolerates brackish water or occasional inundation by salt water.

Salt Wind Tolerance: Secondary line; tolerates significant salt wind without injury, but usually is somewhat protected.

Drought Tolerance: High; does not require any supplemental water once established.

Light Requirements: Full sun to light shade.

Flower Color: Yellow to yellowish-orange.

Flower Characteristics: Showy.

Flowering Season: All year; peak spring-summer.

Fruit: Purplish-red berry. Edible.

Wildlife and Ecology: Provides food for wildlife. Nectar plant for Meske's skipper (Hesperia meskei) butterflies.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from cuttings and seed. For cuttings, break off mature pad at joint. Let dry for a few days. Set cut end in potting soil several inches deep. Water every 2-3 days. Roots will form soon and initial growth will be rapid. Good drainage is essential.

References: Hammer 2004

Comments: The fruits can be peeled and eaten raw. It is listed as threatened by the state of Florida. Taxonomy: the spineless form more common on the mainland is referable to variety stricta; the spiny form more common in the Florida Keys is referable to variety dillenii, or O. dillenii.

Copyright by: James Johnson
Eastern Cuba, 2013

Copyright by: Keith A. Bradley

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Keith A. Bradley

Copyright by: Keith A. Bradley

Copyright by: Keith A. Bradley

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Other data on Opuntia stricta available from:

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