Cold hardy to USDA zone 4, the Eastern Prickly Pear a moderately small cactus that acts similar to a ground cover. The flowers are bright yellow and occur in early summer. Like other succulents, they require full sun, dry soils, and excellent drainage.
Opuntia compressa (Eastern Prickly Pear, Prickly-Pear Cactus) [sometimes Opuntia numifusa]
Deciduous: No, the stems (“pads”) lie down in winter and enter dormancy, however.
Hardiness Zones: 4-9
Height: 15-35 centimeters (6-14 inches) tall
Diameter: 30-45 centimeters (12-18 inches) across
Growth Rate: fast
Root System: shallow, fibrous
Tolerates: herbivores (rabbits, deer), drought, strong winds
Problems (major): In poorly drained or inadequete soils, root rot, stem rot, and other forms of fatal rotting occur.
Problems (minor): few
Poisonous: presumably no
Soil requirements: prefers dry sandy/gravelly soils with good drainage (grows in very well-drained clay/heavy soils with any acidity/pH)
Air requirements: not sufficiently researched
Watering requirement: low/dry
Sun requirement: requires full sun
Primary photosynthetic organ: stems
Stem structure: rounded, flat, light green, oval-shaped, sometimes called “pads”, up to 25 centimeters (10 inches) wide, have several bristles (called “glochids”)
Leaf shape: spiky/spiny
Reproduction by offsets: yes
Monoecious or dioecious: monoecious
Monocot or dicot: dicot
Flower structure: yellow, to 8 centimeters (3 inches) in diameter, stigmas in the center surrounded by many stamens, up to 12 petals (sometimes called “rays”), sometimes with a red center (known as an “eye”)
Flowering frequency: June to July
Fruits: red, to 5 centimeters (2 inches) in diameter, edible
These are easily propagated vegetatively by cuttings.
O. compressa are sometimes used as groundcover. Some are naturally found in desert, prairie, or forest areas.
All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.