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Opuntia microdasys, photo courtesy of Debra Lee Baldwin
Opuntia microdasys, photo courtesy of Debra Lee Baldwin

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Zones 12-24
Full Sun
Minimal Water

Opuntia microdasys

Bunny Ears
Cacti and succulents


The species described here originate in the desert Southwest and Mexico; other species are native to those areas and/or other parts of the western U.S., the Great Plains, Canada, and Florida. Most species fall into one of two sorts: those having flat, broad joints (pads), and those having cylindrical joints. Though the use of common names is somewhat inconsistent, members of the first group are often called prickly pear; those in the second group are frequently known as cholla. Hardiness is variable. Flowers are generally large and showy. The fruit is a berry, often edible.

Opuntia microdasys

Fast growth to 2–3 ft. high, 4–5 ft. wide (much smaller in pots). Flat, thin, nearly round pads to 6 in. across, in a soft, velvety green; neatly spaced tufts of short golden bristles give a polka-dot effect. ‘Albispina’ has white bristles. New pads atop larger old ones give plant the shape of an animal’s head.

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