Opuntia engelmannii

Opuntia engelmannii

Opuntia engelmannii or Prickly Pear Cactus is from southwestern North America and northern Mexico.

It is a fast grower, especially when watered regularly, and quite hardy.

The fruit is edible and seeds can be used for propagation.

Description:

Opuntia engelmannii grows as a shrub in dense clumps to 3.5 m high, usually without a trunk.
The pads are green and sometimes blue-green, obovate, 15-30 cm long and 12-20 cm wide. These pads are covered with glochids where the spines emerge from in groups of 1 to 8. The glochids are first yellow, later brown. The spines vary from 1 to 6 cm, are slightly flattened and white to yellow.

The flowers are funnel-shaped, usually yellow, sometimes red, 5-8 cm in diameter and about as long.

The fruits are fleshy and purple, 3-7 cm long.

The fruits are edible as well as young pads. The plant is often used as a hedge because of its rapid growth and the spines that act as barbed wire.

Opuntia engelmannii is a fairly fast grower, especially when watered regularly during the growing season.

Nomenclature:

Common names:

Cactus apple, Cactus-apple, Cow-tongue cactus, Cow-tongue prickly-pear, Desert prickly-pear, Discus prickly-pear, Engelmann´s prickly-pear, Few-spine marble-fruit prickly-pear, Texas prickly pear, Tuna

Etymology:

Opuntia: from the Greek Opus, a city in ancient Greece
Engelmannii: after George Engelmann (1809-1884), an american botanist

Opuntia engelmannii flower

Opuntia engelmannii flower

Origin:

Mexico, North America

Habitat:

Sandy and gravelly soils, semi-arid areas and savanna

Hardiness:

USDA zone 8-10, -12 °C



Care:

Soil:

Dry, sandy and well drained

Exposure:

Sun

Water:

Regular but not excessive watering promotes growth

Fertilizer:

Fertilize sparingly with specialized cactus fertilizer

Pruning:

If it gets too big, you may prune. Cut pads me be used as cuttings

Remarks:

  • always use gloves when handling a cactus
  • for repotting fold up a few sheets of newspaper into a thick flat band. Surround the cactus with this band handle him
  • remove the spines from the skin by applying a patch of adhesive tape and removing it
Opuntia engelmannii fruit

Opuntia engelmannii fruit

Propagation:

Seed, Cutting

Sowing instructions:

  • use a mix of topsoil, sand and gravel (1:1:1) and sterilize that (eg in the microwave)
  • fill a pot with it and wet the substrate by placing it 2 hours in a bowl with water so the water is sucked up
  • sow the seeds on the surface and press very lightly
  • place the pot with seeds in a plastic bag and close it
  • place the pot in a bright location out of direct sunlight
  • 20-25°C
  • regularly check that no fungi develop
  • when the seeds begin to germinate make a few holes in the plastic bag and then every week 2-4 additional holes for the seedlings to get used gradually to drier air
  • germination: 14 days

Cutting instructions:

  • cut a pad as close as you can to where it is attached
  • dry the pad for at least a week
  • plant it in cactus mix at about 5-8 cm depth
  • rooting takes 30 days
  • dry or lightly moist: this cactus roots so easily that even pads who fell in the dirt and were not digged in will root

Image sources

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