A baby prickly pear cactus held in a hand

The baby prickly pear hiding among the onions

As I was doing a little weeding in the onion beds, I came across this little opuntia (aka: paddle cactus or prickly pear) growing among them.

Prickly pear cactus is pretty common here. It dots the dry hillsides above the river, and Spanish settlers used it as a “living fence” for the nearby adobe villages.

Usually it spreads by rooting from a fallen paddle, but this one obvious started from seed.

The closest cactus plant is downslope about 100 yards away (coincidentally hiding among the buckwheat), so I’m assuming the scrub jays or mockingbirds carried the seeds up here.

A yellow flowered prickly pear cactus growing in the wild

The likely “parent” cactus hiding in the buckwheat downslope from here

This little baby will be moving to a container for a while, then join the other pokey and stabby natives over in the dry garden.

Opuntia Plant Profile

Plant Details
Common Name Prickly Pear, Paddle Cactus
Botanical Name Opuntia
Plant Family Cactaceae
Native to North America
Plant Type Cactus
Mature Size 5-10 ft. high and 10-20 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full
Soil Type Any (not picky)
Soil pH Any (not picky)
Water Little to none
Bloom Time Winter, Spring
Flower Color Red, Pink, Orange, Yellow
Hardiness Zones 3-9 (USDA)