Opuntia humifusa (Raf.) Raf.

eastern prickly-pear

Copyright: various copyright holders. To reuse an image, please click it to see who you will need to contact.

New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

Found this plant? Take a photo and post a sighting.

North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

enlarge

Facts About

Eastern prickly-pear is New England's only native cactus, found in sandy habitats along the Atlantic coast in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Its North American distribution includes many sandy habitats inland, including sandhill prairie, shortgrass prairie and Texas savanna, among others. It has also been collected inland in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, but it is considered to be introduced there.

Habitat

Coastal beaches (sea beaches), dunes, grassland, meadows and fields, ridges or ledges

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
Flower petal color
  • pink to red
  • yellow
Leaf type
  • NA
  • the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaf arrangement
NA
Leaf blade edges
NA
Flower symmetry
there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
Number of sepals, petals or tepals
there are seven or more petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
Fusion of sepals and petals
both the petals and sepals are separate and not fused
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is fleshy
Fruit length
30–50 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Bulbils
    the plant does not appear to have bulbils
    Bulblets replace flowers
    there are no bulblets where the flowers are located
  • Flowers
    Anther spurs
    the anthers do not have spurs on them
    Calyx symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the calyx (the calyx is radially symmetrical)
    Carpels fused
    the carpels are fused to one another
    Cleistogamous flowers
    there are no cleistogamous flowers on the plan
    Corolla morphology
    NA
    Corolla palate
    no
    Corona lobe length
    0 mm
    Epicalyx number of parts
    0
    Flower description
    the flower has an inferior ovary, with or without a hypanthium
    Flower petal color
    • pink to red
    • yellow
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Flowers sunken into stem
    no
    Form of style
    the style is lobed at the tip, and unbranched
    Fusion of sepals and petals
    both the petals and sepals are separate and not fused
    Horns in hoods (Asclepias)
    NA
    Hypanthium
    the flower has a hypanthium
    Inflorescence one-sided
    the flowers are arrayed in a spiral around the inflorescence axis or branches, or occur singly, or in several ranks
    Inner tepals (Rumex)
    NA
    Nectar spur
    the flower has no nectar spurs
    Number of sepals, petals or tepals
    there are seven or more petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    Ovary position
    the ovary is below the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    • the flower includes only one cycle of petals or sepals
    • the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures
    Petal and sepal colors
    • pink to red
    • yellow
    Petal folds or pleats
    the petals of the flower do not have folds or plaits
    Petal hairs (Viola)
    NA
    Petal number
    8–12
    Petal tips (Cuscuta)
    NA
    Scales inside corolla
    no
    Sepal and petal color
    the petals and sepals are similar
    Sepal appendages
    the sepals do not have appendages on them
    Sepal appendages (Oenothera)
    NA
    Stamen attachment
    the stamens are attached at or near the bases of the petals or tepals
    Umbel flower reproductive parts
    NA
    Upper lip of bilabiate corolla
    NA
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene relative orientation
    NA
    Achene shape
    NA
    Achene surface (Polygonum)
    NA
    Achene type
    NA
    Berry color
    • purple
    • red
    Capsule color (Viola)
    NA
    Capsule ribs
    NA
    Capsule splitting
    NA
    Fruit (pyxis) dehiscence
    NA
    Fruit beak length
    0 mm
    Fruit features (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Fruit length
    30–50 mm
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is fleshy
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a berry (fleshy, with the wall enclosing one or more sections, with two or more seeds)
    Legumes (Fabaceae)
    NA
    Mericarp length
    0 mm
    Mericarp segment shape (Desmodium)
    NA
    Other markings on berry
    the ripe berries are mostly one color without spots or streaks
    Rows of seeds in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit compression
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit segments
    0
    Septum in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Wings on fruit
    the fruit does not have wings on it
    prickles on fruits
    the fruits are armed with thorns-like defensive structures
  • Glands or sap
    Glands on leaf blade
    NA
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
    Sap color
    the sap is clear
  • Growth form
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Parasitism
    the plant is not parasitic
    Plant color
    the leaves or young stems of the plant are green
    Plants darken when dry
    no
    Spines on plant
    there are spines on the plant
  • Leaves
    Bracteole number (Apiaceae)
    0
    Bracts in plantain (Plantago)
    NA
    Final leaf segment length (compound lvs only)
    0 mm
    Final leaf segment length to width ratio (compound lvs only)
    0
    Final leaf segment width (compound lvs only)
    0 mm
    Leaf arrangement
    NA
    Leaf blade edges
    NA
    Leaf blade shape
    • NA
    • the leaf blade is subulate (awl-shaped; narrowly tapering from the base to the tip)
    Leaf blade surface colors
    NA
    Leaf duration
    NA
    Leaf form
    NA
    Leaf spines
    NA
    Leaf teeth and lobes
    NA
    Leaf type
    • NA
    • the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Leaf variation
    NA
    Leaflet number
    0
    Leaves per node
    NA
    Pinnately compound leaf type
    NA
    Specific leaf type
    • NA
    • the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Stipels
    NA
    Stipule features
    NA
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Massachusetts
    • Rhode Island
    Specific habitat
    • dunes
    • grasslands
    • meadows or fields
    • ridges or ledges
    • sea beaches
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the plant does not have much of a smell
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Branched tendrils
    NA
    Hairs between stem nodes
    the stem has no hairs between the nodes
    Hooked hairs on stem between nodes
    no
    Plant height
    Up to 50 cm
    Tendril origin
    NA
    Tendrils
    the plant does not have tendrils

Wetland Status

Not classified

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
absent
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
absent

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Connecticut
uncommon (S-rank: S3), special concern (code: SC)
Massachusetts
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)
Rhode Island
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), state endangered (code: SE)

var. humifusa

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes and no (some introduced)

Sometimes Confused With

Opuntia cespitosa:
cladodes strongly glaucus-green when developing, inner tepals with pink to dark-red coloration at the base, and spines present, 1.5–4.3 cm long (vs. O. humifusa, with cladodes not glaucous, inner tepals entirely yellow, and spines absent).

Synonyms

  • Cactus humifusus Raf.
  • Opuntia ammophila Small
  • Opuntia calcicola Wherry
  • Opuntia compressa J.F. Macbr.

Family

Cactaceae

Genus

Opuntia

Need Help?

Get Help

Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Opuntia humifusa (Raf.) Raf. n

eastern prickly-pear. Cactus humifusus Raf.; Opuntia ammophila Small; O. calcicola Wherry; O. compressa J.F. Macbr. • CT, MA, RI; mainly along the coastal plain. Dry fields, ledges, Atlantic coast dunes and beaches. Introduced to Middlesex County, MA.