December 14
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Plant Species of the genus Opuntia

Information about this genus
Name: Opuntia
Cultivation: CULTIVATION: Opuntias do not like having their roots confined. In colder climates, tender species are grown under glass, in the soil or in large containers. They need cactus compost if grown in pots. Those grown outdoors do best in sandy, humus-enriched, well-drained soil that is moderately fertile. Frost-hardy species need protection from too much winter wet and should be grown in full sun under glass, with the light filtered in hot summers. Feed regularly from spring to summer, and reduce or stop watering during winter months. Propagate in spring by sowing pre-soaked seed or by rooting stem segments.
Description: This genus in the family of Cactaceae contains more than 200 species that grow throughout the Americas, from southern Canada to the most southerly part of South America. They range from high-altitude to temperate-region and tropical lowland species, and this vast range of habitats ensures there is a plant for every situation. They have stem segments that can be shaped like a cylinder, a club or a compressed pad, most with flat or barbed spines protruding from areoles, although some species are spineless. The flowers are cup- or funnel-shaped and appear in spring and summer, followed by prickly egg-shaped fruits. The spineless forms are cultivated for cattle feed and as a food source for the cochineal aphid, collected for its scarlet dye. Fortified or spiny forms may be grown as hedges and for the edible fruit that some species produce. On a small scale they are cultivated for the alkaloids, including mescalin, used in medicine. In parts of South Africa and Australia, introduced species have become invasive. Note that most species have bristles that can irritate the skin.

Specie Vernacular Zone
fragilis 6?10
humifusa devil's-tongue
macrorhiza twistspine pricklypear
Opuntia bigelovii 9?11
Opuntia ficus-indica 9?11
Opuntia phaeacantha 9?11
Opuntia polyacantha 3?10
Opuntia tomentosa 9?12
Opuntia tunicata 9?11
Opuntia vulgaris 9?11

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