Carolina Nature

Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of North Carolina

Dune Prickly-pear (Opuntia pusilla)

Plantae>Magnoliophyta>Magnoliopsida>Caryophyllales>Cactaceae>Opuntia pusilla (Haworth) Nuttall

Dune Prickly-pear (Opuntia pusilla)

Found in North Carolina only along the immediate coast from Dare County south, this cactus is fairly common in sand dunes. The retrorsely barbed spines are very painful and difficult to remove, as anyone who's walked through dunes in sandals or holey sneakers can attest. The segments will break off as they attach to shoes. The spines are much more aggressive than those of the more common and widespread Eastern Prickly-pear (Opuntia humifusa), with which it hybridizes.

Carteret Co., NC 4/14/07.

Dune Prickly-pear (Opuntia pusilla)

The stem segments are more cylindrical than the flattened ones of Eastern Prickly-pear.

Other common names include Sand-bur Prickly-pear, Little Prickly-pear, Cockspur Pricklypear, and Creeping Cactus. Formerly known as Opuntia drummondii.

Cape Hatteras, Dare Co., NC 6/4/06.

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Mississippi State

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