Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill.

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Opuntia ficus-indica

Photo: Bart Wursten
Hot Springs

Opuntia ficus-indica

Photo: Bart Wursten
Val D'Or

Opuntia ficus-indica

Photo: Bart Wursten
Val D'Or

Opuntia ficus-indica

Photo: Mark Hyde
Calderwood Park, Peterhouse School

Opuntia ficus-indica

Photo: Mark Hyde
Christon Bank

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Species details: Click on each item to see an explanation of that item (Note: opens a new window)

Synonyms: Opuntia megacantha Salm Dyck
Common names: Sweet prickly-pear (English)
Robust shrub-like succulent. True leaves are absent and their role is taken over by the flattened, disc-shaped branches, called cladodes with or without tufts of strong, sharp spines. Flowers borne on the margins of cladodes, yellow to orange. Fruits oval (image 3), covered in tufts of minute spines, which irritate the skin on contact.
Notes: It is widely grown as a hedge plant and for the fruits, which are sweet tasting and popular. It has become naturalized and sometimes invasive in many places, particularly in drier areas.
Derivation of specific name:
Habitat: In woodland, rocky areas and more open habitats
Flowering time:
Worldwide distribution: Native to Central America, widely naturalized in warm areas of the world.
Botswana distribution:
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species

Burrows, J.E., Burrows, S.M., Lötter, M.C. & Schmidt, E. (2018). Trees and Shrubs Mozambique Publishing Print Matters (Pty), Cape Town. Page 610. (Includes a picture).

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 31.

Setshogo, M.P. (2005). Preliminary checklist of the plants of Botswana. Sabonet Report no. 37. Sabonet, Pretoria and Gaborone Page 43.

Timberlake, J.R. & Childes, S.L. (2004). Biodiversity of the Four Corners Area: Technical Reviews Volume Two (Chapter 5-15) Appendix 5-1: Plant Checklist Occasional Publications in Biodiversity 15 Page 202.

Wild, H. (1955). Common Rhodesian Weeds Government of Rhodesia, Salisbury Page 38. as Opuntia megacantha (Includes a picture).

Other sources of information about Opuntia ficus-indica:

Our websites:

Flora of Caprivi: Opuntia ficus-indica
Flora of Caprivi: cultivated Opuntia ficus-indica
Flora of Mozambique: Opuntia ficus-indica
Flora of Zambia: Opuntia ficus-indica
Flora of Zimbabwe: Opuntia ficus-indica
Flora of Zimbabwe: cultivated Opuntia ficus-indica

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Opuntia ficus-indica
African Plant Database: Opuntia ficus-indica
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Opuntia ficus-indica
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Opuntia ficus-indica
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Opuntia ficus-indica
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
iNaturalist: Opuntia ficus-indica
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Opuntia ficus-indica
JSTOR Plant Science: Opuntia ficus-indica
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Opuntia ficus-indica
Plants of the World Online: Opuntia ficus-indica
Tropicos: Opuntia ficus-indica
Wikipedia: Opuntia ficus-indica

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2014-24

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2024). Flora of Botswana: Species information: Opuntia ficus-indica.
https://www.botswanaflora.com/speciesdata/species.php?species_id=141220, retrieved 14 June 2024

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