Opuntia Polyachantha

Prickly Pear Cactus, Madison Pasterchick 

Common Name(s)  Prickly Pear Cactus
Scientific Name Opuntia Polyachantha
Family Opuntia
Location/Vegetative Zone  Thicket/Secondary Dune
Flowering Period Late spring to early summer
Identifying Characteristics  Have red, yellow, or purple flowers, and small barbed spines.



  • Most have red, yellow, or purple flowers
  • Grow from less than a foot to 6-7 feet
  • All have fleshy pads
  • Have small, barbed spines known as glochids
  • Native plant

Medicinal/Edible Uses

  • Branches can be cooked and eaten as a vegetable
  • Pectin in plants can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol

Cultural Uses

  • Provides protective barrier against predators
  • Juice extracted from pads is used to make mosquito repellents


  • Medical community interested in pectin
  • More than 15 different types of varieties


Osterbrink, Sara. “Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus”. University of Wisconsin La Crosse. Arcsin. Web.

Prickly Pear Cactus.Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. . Encyclopedia.com. 30 Apr. 2018. Web.

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