Species Identification - Plants

Prickly Pear Cactus - Opuntia humifusa

Family: Cactaceae


The name Opuntia comes from the Ancient Greek city of Opus where an edible plant grew that could be propagated by rooting its leaves. The “leaves” of the cactus are called cladodes or platyclades and are usually covered in spines or barbed bristles that can penetrate the skin. Some plants can grow into large tangled structures. They are intolerant of shade and thrive in full, hot sun with well-drained soil. They bloom in the late spring with waxy yellow-gold flowers with red centers. The red fruits are edible. The Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus is also known as the devil’s tongue.

Range: The Eastern Prickly Pear cactus ranges from Montana south to New Mexico and from the lower Great Lakes to the eastern seaboard between New York and the Florida Keys. It prefers coastal scrub habitats like Hunting Island.

Photos by Carl Berube

Site LogoHelp us keep Hunting Island State Park a special place

We need only two things to provide the services and projects you see described on this website: your participation and your tax-deductible membership fees. For one $40 membership contribution, you and your family can join Friends of Hunting Island and have unlimited access to the park for one year. All members are encouraged to participate in any of our on-going projects. If you do not wish to join, but want to donate to our efforts, click here to make a tax-deductible donation to the Friends of Hunting Island.