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Common Name: Eastern Prickly Pear
Opuntia compressa is a Evergreen Perennial up to 0.20 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of materials..
North-eastern N. America. Naturalized on rocks and walls in S. and S.C. Europe.
Opn dry areas[
]. Rocky bluffs, sand dunes, dry rocky or sandy grasslands.
Requires a sandy or very well-drained soil[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 to 7.5[
]. Must be kept fairly dry in winter but likes a reasonable supply of water in the growing season[
]. A position at the base of a south-facing wall or somewhere that can be protected from winter rain is best for this plant. Requires warmth and plenty of sun. Plants tolerate considerable neglect.
Plants are very cold-hardy, tolerating temperatures down to about -30°c[
], but they are intolerant of winter wet.
There is considerable confusion over the correct name for this species, several of the synonyms listed above are also applied to other species in this genus.
A poultice of the peeled pads is applied to wounds, sores etc[
The juice of the fruits is used as a treatment for warts[
A tea made from the pads is used in the treatment of lung ailments[
The following notes are for O. ficus indica. They almost certainly also apply to this species[
A gum is obtained from the stem. It is used as a masticatory or can be mixed with oil to make candles[
]. The juice of the boiled stem segments is very sticky. It is added to plaster, whitewash etc to make it adhere better to walls[
Seed - sow early spring in a very well-drained compost in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first two winters. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Give the plants some protection from winter wet. Make sure you have some reserve plants in case those outdoors do not overwinter.
Cuttings of leaf pads at any time in the growing season. Remove a pad from the plant and then leave it in a dry sunny place for a couple of days to ensure that the base is thoroughly dry and has begun to callous. Pot up into a sandy compost. Very easy, rooting quickly.