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OPUNTIA aequatorialis

Image of Opuntia aequatorialis

James H. Schutte

Family

Cactaceae

Botanical Name

OPUNTIA aequatorialis

Plant Common Name

Ecuadorian Pricklypear

General Description

Remarkably hardy considering it hails from Ecuador, this medium-sized pricklypear is likely a hybrid of Opuntia pubescens and O. soederstromiana. Its spreading or arching branches are composed of succulent oval pads bristling with clusters of formidable gray spines. Although they appear to be leaves (and are treated as such below), the pads are in fact swollen stem segments. The tops and sides of the pads produce yellow or orange bowl-shaped flowers that open from red buds in spring. Plump russet-red urn-shaped fruits follow the flowers. They are armed with glochids (barbed bristles) and spines.

This cactus likes sun and well-drained soil, and does well in hot and arid climates. It will tolerate several degrees of frost. Its pads disengage easily when spines snag on passing animals, its main means of distribution. They can also be easily detached by gardeners for the purpose of increasing this plant, provided due respect is paid to the wicked spines and glochids. Use it in dry gardens in niches out of the reach of children and pets.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    9 - 12

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    3'-5' / 0.9m - 1.5m

  • Width

    5'-8' / 1.5m - 2.4m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring

  • Native To

    South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow, Red, Orange

  • Fruit Color

    Red, Burgundy

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Light Green, Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Light Green, Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Light Green, Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Light Green, Blue Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Houseplant, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No