Thursday, December 20, 2007

Opuntia paraguayensis

Opuntia paraguayensis (Paraguay Cactus) also known as O. quimlo, O. bonaerensis, O. riverina, or Orange Tuna, is an attractive prickly pear with fleshy green pads and orange flowers that appear in spring, followed by purple fruits. It grows long thorns randomly on the pads. Over time, this prickly pear will get about six feet high and wide.

I picked up a free pad of this species at one of our local Cactus and Succulent Society meeting plant exchanges, mostly because of its plump pads. All the other prickly pear species in my garden have thin, flat pads, so I thought this species would make a good addition to my garden. It has grown several new pads since its summer planting, but I doubt it will have flowers for a couple of years.

As with all the Opuntia species, this cactus does not need much supplemental water, or any special care. Planted on a slope in my garden in full sun, this cactus has a lot of room to spread out, so I won’t even have to worry about keeping it a certain size.

Because it can grow rapidly under the right conditions, it can be invasive in some parts of the world. Australia has deemed it an invasive species and banned it. I am not aware of this species of Opuntia banned in the United States. I wonder what environmental conditions cause it to be invasive in Australia but not in the U.S.

4 comments:

eaglehawk said...

I like that... the way you took the picture it almost looks like its waving hello...lol

Julie said...

This opuntia looks very juicy!!!
LOL!

MrBrownThumb said...

Hmmm.

IS the difference in color and texture between the new pads and the old pad as dramatic in person? Those spines look like they'd hurt like heck.

No Rain said...

No Rain said...
eaglehawk,
You are right! I didn't notice until you mentioned it--but it does look like it's waving.
Julie,
Yes, nice and plump!
mrbrownthumb,
Newer pads on most Opuntia species are always a darker green, smoother, and just more tender looking. As they age, the pads get scarred by various environmental elements, and the skin gets tougher and a lighter color. The spines are thick and stiff. No give!