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Useful Temperate Plants

Opuntia stricta

(Haw.) Haw.

Cactaceae


This species is treated here in the wider sense as including Opuntia dillenii (as per David Hunt, CITES Cactaceae Checklist, Third Edition, 2016)

+ Synonyms

Cactus dillenii Ker Gawl.

Cactus strictus Haw.

Opuntia anahuacensis Griffiths

Opuntia dillenii (Ker Gawl.) Haw.

Opuntia inermis (DC.) DC.

Cactus opuntia inermis DC.

Consolea bahamana (Britton & Rose) A.Berger

Opuntia airampo Phil.

Opuntia bahamana Britton & Rose

Opuntia balearica F.A.C.Weber ex Hirscht

Opuntia bartramii Raf.

Opuntia bentonii Griffiths

Opuntia keyensis Britton ex Small

Opuntia longiclada Griffiths

Opuntia magnifica Small

Opuntia nejapensis Bravo

Opuntia parva A.Berger

Opuntia tehuantepecana (Bravo) Bravo

Opuntia tenuiflora Small

Opuntia vulgaris balaerica F.A.C.Weber

Pilocereus flavispinus Rümpler

Pilocereus nobilis K.Schum.

Opuntia maritima Raf.

Opuntia melanosperma Svenson

Opuntia zebrina Small

Common Name: Erect Prickly Pear

Opuntia stricta
Flowering plant in native habitat
Photograph by: Richardson, R.G. & F.J.
Image credit to Australian National Botanic Gardens
Opuntia stricta Opuntia stricta Opuntia stricta Opuntia stricta Opuntia stricta Opuntia stricta Opuntia stricta Opuntia stricta Opuntia stricta Opuntia stricta

General Information

Opuntia stricta is a shrubby, low-spreading to erect, evergreen cactus, sometimes forming large, wide clumps that are seldom more than 80cm tall, though occasional forms with definite trunks are known to grow 2 - 3 metres tall[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
,
529
Title
The Cactaceae
Publication
 
Author
Britton N.L. & Rose J.N.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
The Carnegie Institution of Washington; Washington.
Year
1920
ISBN
 
Description
An immense work in 4 volumes. Many of the botanical names are out of date, of course, but the book contains a wealth of information about the plants. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. The plant varies considerably in degrees of spininess, ranging from forms that are completely free of spines up to forms with relatively abundant spines[
529
Title
The Cactaceae
Publication
 
Author
Britton N.L. & Rose J.N.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
The Carnegie Institution of Washington; Washington.
Year
1920
ISBN
 
Description
An immense work in 4 volumes. Many of the botanical names are out of date, of course, but the book contains a wealth of information about the plants. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
The plant has been cultivated through much of the tropics, subtropics and warm temperate zone as a hedge plant and living fence, as well as for sand dune fixation, and also as an ornamental[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
,
1987
Title
The Cactus Family
Publication
 
Author
Anderson E.F.
Publisher
Timber Press; Portland, Oregon
Year
2001
ISBN
0-88192-498-9
Description
An excellent work, giving botanical descriptions of virtually all the cacti, together with their range (but not their habitats) and sometimes also a photo. it also contains a long chapter detailing the many uses of cacti and another on cultivation..
]. The fruits are occasionally eaten[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
].
Opuntia stricta is widespread, common, has no major threats, and is found in many protected areas.The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2017)[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].
Opuntia stricta has escaped from cultivation in many parts of the tropics and become an invasive pest species in many areas. The plant is capable of over-running large areas of land in a surprisingly short time[
529
Title
The Cactaceae
Publication
 
Author
Britton N.L. & Rose J.N.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
The Carnegie Institution of Washington; Washington.
Year
1920
ISBN
 
Description
An immense work in 4 volumes. Many of the botanical names are out of date, of course, but the book contains a wealth of information about the plants. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Known Hazards

The plant has numerous minutely barbed glochids - these are barbed spines that are usually small to minute and are very sharp and brittle. The glochids are very easily dislodged when the plant is touched and can penetrate the skin where, because of their barbs, they become stuck and are very difficult to see and remove. They can cause considerable irritation and discomfort[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
1999
Title
A natural history of the Sonoran Desert
Publication
 
Author
Phillips S.J. & Comus P.W.
Publisher
University of California Press; Los Angeles, California
Year
2000
ISBN
0-520-22029-3
Description
 
].
Opuntia species can contain quite high levels of oxalic acid, especially in older parts of the plant. Perfectly alright in small quantities, foods containing oxalic acid should not be eaten in large amounts since it can lock-up other nutrients in the food, especially calcium, thus causing mineral deficiencies. The oxalic acid content will be reduced if the plant is cooked. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
,
1999
Title
A natural history of the Sonoran Desert
Publication
 
Author
Phillips S.J. & Comus P.W.
Publisher
University of California Press; Los Angeles, California
Year
2000
ISBN
0-520-22029-3
Description
 
].

Botanical References

266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
,
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
,
529
Title
The Cactaceae
Publication
 
Author
Britton N.L. & Rose J.N.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
The Carnegie Institution of Washington; Washington.
Year
1920
ISBN
 
Description
An immense work in 4 volumes. Many of the botanical names are out of date, of course, but the book contains a wealth of information about the plants. It can be downloaded from the Internet.

Range

Northern S. America - Ecuador, Venezuela; C. America; Caribbean; southern N. America - Texas to Florida and Virginia.

Habitat

Coastal sand dunes, hammocks, edges of maritime forests, shell middens; at elevations around sea level[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
]. Thickets, rocks, sandy soils in areas of southern China where it has become naturalized[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
].

Properties

Weed PotentialYes
Conservation StatusLeast Concern
Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Shrub
Height1.00 m
PollinatorsBees, Insects
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details


Requires a sunny position and a well-drained soil[
529
Title
The Cactaceae
Publication
 
Author
Britton N.L. & Rose J.N.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
The Carnegie Institution of Washington; Washington.
Year
1920
ISBN
 
Description
An immense work in 4 volumes. Many of the botanical names are out of date, of course, but the book contains a wealth of information about the plants. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
Opuntia stricta hybridizes with Oountia engelmannii (apparently var. lindheimeri) forming Opuntia × alta Griffiths (as species) along the coast of southeastern Texas and adjacent Louisiana. The hexaploid hybrid is arborescent to 3 metres; it has stem segments subcircular to oblong-ovate, with a glochid pattern intermediate of the putative parents, all yellow spines, and light green stigma lobes[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
].

Edible Uses

Fruits - raw[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
,
1438
Title
Food Plants in the Americas: A Survey of the Domesticated, Cultivated, and Wild Plants Used for Human Food in North,
Publication
 
Author
Kermath B.M.; Bennett B.C.' Pulsipher L.M.
Publisher
 
Year
2014
ISBN
 
Description
A pre-publication draft of an amazing, on-going work first started in 1985. It contains information on more than 3,900 taxa from the Americas - from Arctic regions to the Tropics
]. Insipid but very juicy, they can be made into syrup, jam or jelly[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. The pear-shaped, purplish, spine-free fruits can be up to 75mm long[
529
Title
The Cactaceae
Publication
 
Author
Britton N.L. & Rose J.N.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
The Carnegie Institution of Washington; Washington.
Year
1920
ISBN
 
Description
An immense work in 4 volumes. Many of the botanical names are out of date, of course, but the book contains a wealth of information about the plants. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Young pads - raw or cooked as a vegetable[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
,
1987
Title
The Cactus Family
Publication
 
Author
Anderson E.F.
Publisher
Timber Press; Portland, Oregon
Year
2001
ISBN
0-88192-498-9
Description
An excellent work, giving botanical descriptions of virtually all the cacti, together with their range (but not their habitats) and sometimes also a photo. it also contains a long chapter detailing the many uses of cacti and another on cultivation..
,
2001
Title
Uses of Opuntia Species and the potential impact of Cactoblastis cactorum (Lepidoptera; Pyralidae) in Mexco
Publication
Florida Entomologist 84(4) pp 493-498 2001
Author
Vigueras A.L. & Portillo L.
Publisher
 
Year
2001
ISBN
 
Description
 
]. They can be cut into strips and boiled, or can be sun-dried for later use[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. A traditional method of cooking is first to boil, them, then strip of the outer skin and spines, fry them in oil with onions and chillis and season them with salt and pepper, making a slimy, acid tasting, palatable green.[
1981
Title
Rio Mayo Plants - A study of the flora and vegetation of the valley of the Rio Mayo, Sonora
Publication
 
Author
Gentry H.S.
Publisher
Carnegie Institution of Washington; Washington DC
Year
1942
ISBN
 
Description
One of my favourite authors on native plants, often including their uses. This is an excellent example with lots of information, even though the book is 80 years old.
]

Medicinal

The fruit is said to have a value in the treatment of diabetes[
1174
Title
Ethnobotanical Uses of Biofencing Plants in Himachel Pradesh, Northwest Himalaya
Publication
Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences 16 (24): 1957-1963, 2013
Author
Pankaj Sharma & Usha Devi
Publisher
 
Year
2013
ISBN
1028-8880
Description
A brief look at 61 species of plants used in hedging in northwest Himalayas nd their other uses
].

The plant (part not specified) is used in India to treat sores, pimples, even syphilis[
1987
Title
The Cactus Family
Publication
 
Author
Anderson E.F.
Publisher
Timber Press; Portland, Oregon
Year
2001
ISBN
0-88192-498-9
Description
An excellent work, giving botanical descriptions of virtually all the cacti, together with their range (but not their habitats) and sometimes also a photo. it also contains a long chapter detailing the many uses of cacti and another on cultivation..
].

The stem joints are used in northern Thailand to make a tea for the treatment of stomachache, excess gas, and liver and spleen problems[
1987
Title
The Cactus Family
Publication
 
Author
Anderson E.F.
Publisher
Timber Press; Portland, Oregon
Year
2001
ISBN
0-88192-498-9
Description
An excellent work, giving botanical descriptions of virtually all the cacti, together with their range (but not their habitats) and sometimes also a photo. it also contains a long chapter detailing the many uses of cacti and another on cultivation..
].
The stem jointes are used as a poultice[
1987
Title
The Cactus Family
Publication
 
Author
Anderson E.F.
Publisher
Timber Press; Portland, Oregon
Year
2001
ISBN
0-88192-498-9
Description
An excellent work, giving botanical descriptions of virtually all the cacti, together with their range (but not their habitats) and sometimes also a photo. it also contains a long chapter detailing the many uses of cacti and another on cultivation..
].

We have nofurther specific information on medicinal uses for this species, but the following notes are likely to apply universally to Opuntia species and other related genera[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

The mucilage and soluble fibre found in the flowers and stem segments have been shown to help control blood-sugar levels associated with adult-onset diabetes[
1999
Title
A natural history of the Sonoran Desert
Publication
 
Author
Phillips S.J. & Comus P.W.
Publisher
University of California Press; Los Angeles, California
Year
2000
ISBN
0-520-22029-3
Description
 
].
There is clinical evidence that the soluble fibre in the stem segments helps reduce blood cholesterol levels[
1999
Title
A natural history of the Sonoran Desert
Publication
 
Author
Phillips S.J. & Comus P.W.
Publisher
University of California Press; Los Angeles, California
Year
2000
ISBN
0-520-22029-3
Description
 
].

Agroforestry Uses:

The plant is traditionally grown in living fences in the northwestern Himalayas, where it helps to exclude livestock and other animals; mark out land boundaries; whilst also providing a range of medicinal and other uses[
1174
Title
Ethnobotanical Uses of Biofencing Plants in Himachel Pradesh, Northwest Himalaya
Publication
Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences 16 (24): 1957-1963, 2013
Author
Pankaj Sharma & Usha Devi
Publisher
 
Year
2013
ISBN
1028-8880
Description
A brief look at 61 species of plants used in hedging in northwest Himalayas nd their other uses
].
The plant spreads rapidly and has been used in the past to stabilize sand dunes, and to form hedges and living fences[
317
Title
Mansfeld's Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/pls/htmldb_pgrc/f?p=185:3:4292127278597336
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details of a huge range of useful plants.
]. Due to the plants propensity to spread into native environments, however, this practice should only be carried out within its native range or any other areas where it has proved to be better behaved[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Other Uses

The fruits have been used as a red dye for ropes made of hemp[
1987
Title
The Cactus Family
Publication
 
Author
Anderson E.F.
Publisher
Timber Press; Portland, Oregon
Year
2001
ISBN
0-88192-498-9
Description
An excellent work, giving botanical descriptions of virtually all the cacti, together with their range (but not their habitats) and sometimes also a photo. it also contains a long chapter detailing the many uses of cacti and another on cultivation..
].

Propagation

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.
Cite as: Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2023-02-02. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Opuntia+stricta>

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