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Opuntia humifusa (Raf.) Raf.

Indian fig, Indian fig prickly pear, mission cactus, Nopal de Castilla, smooth mountain prickly pear, smooth prickly pear, tuberous prickly pear, tuna de Castilla, tuna mansa, Eastern prickly pear

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassCaryophyllidaeCacti, many other succulents, carnivorous plants, and leadworts
OrderCaryophyllalesIncludes cacti, carnations, amaranths, ice plants, and many carnivorous plants
FamilyCactaceaeSucculent (water-storing) plants, often spiny
GenusOpuntiaPrickly pears
SpecieshumifusaMeans “strewn on the ground”

About plant names...

Eastern prickly pear is widespread in eastern North America. I first encountered these in an outdoor botanical garden in Massachusetts (I have since seen them on sandy soil in urban environments), and I was amazed to learn that there are cacti that grow that far north.

Plants: These cacti form low shrubs, sometimes lying very close to the ground and looking rather unhealthy. Oval stem segments resembling Mickey Mouse ears are green to red-purple, 1½-4" (4-10 cm) by 1½-2" (4-6 cm), and about ⅜" (1 cm) thick. Only the upper areoles have spines, which are gray or brownish and ¾-1¾" (2-5 cm) long. (Sometimes there are no spines.)

Flowers: Yellow flowers are up to 1" (3 cm) in diameter. The purplish or reddish fruits, called tunas, are ½-1½" (1.5-4 cm) long.

Fruits: Mature fruits are 1½-2" (3.8-5 cm) long and ½-¾" (1.3-1.9 cm) across, dull red to reddish brown, and oblanceoloid-oblongoid in shape.

Edibility: The egg-shaped fruits are edible, and taste a little like watermelon.

References:

Anderson, Edward F., The Cactus Family, Timber Press, 2001, p. 501

Online References:

Opuntia humifusa at Illinois Wildflowers

Opuntia humifusa on floridata.com

Opuntia humifusa on the USDA Plants Database

Opuntia humifusa on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database

Opuntia humifusa on the Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Opuntia humifusa at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Opuntia humifusa on Wikipedia

Opuntia humifusa on the Connecticut Botanical Society's Connecticut wildflowers site

Opuntia humifusa on eFloras

Opuntia humifusa (Indian fig, Indian fig prickly pear, mission cactus, Nopal de Castilla, smooth mountain prickly pear, smooth prickly pear, tuberous prickly pear, tuna de Castilla, tuna mansa, Eastern prickly pear)

1/19/2021 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts

Opuntia ficus-indica (Linnaeus) P. Miller 1768

Opuntia ficus-indica

Cactus ficus-indica Linnaeus 1753

Cactus opuntia Linnaeus 1753

Opuntia vulgaris P. Miller 1768

Platyopuntia vulgaris (P. Miller) F. Ritter 1979

Cactus compressus R. A. Salisbury 1796 (illegitimate name)

Opuntia compressa auct. non J.F. Macbr.

Opuntia maxima Salm-Dyck ex A. P. de Candolle 1828

Opuntia cordobensis Spegazzini 1905

Platyopuntia cordobensis (Spegazzini) F. Ritter 1980

Opuntia tuna-blanca Spegazzini 1925

Opuntia compressa J.F. Macbr. var. microsperma (Engelm. & Bigelow) L.D. Benson

Opuntia calcicola Wherry

Opuntia compressa J.F. Macbr. var. allairei (Griffiths) D. Weniger nom. nud.

Opuntia compressa J.F. Macbr. var. fuscoatra (Engelm.) D. Weniger nom. nud.

Opuntia cumulicola Small

Opuntia humifusa (Raf.) Raf. var. humifusa

Opuntia rafinesquei Engelm.

Opuntia compressa McBride 1922

Opuntia compressa J.F. Macbr. var. microsperma (Engelm. & J.M. Bigelow) L.D. Benson

 

Opuntia humifusa description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Opuntia humifusa (Indian fig, Indian fig prickly pear, mission cactus, Nopal de Castilla, smooth mountain prickly pear, smooth prickly pear, tuberous prickly pear, tuna de Castilla, tuna mansa, Eastern prickly pear)

4/6/2011 · Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, Mary­land
≈ 9 × 6" (22 × 14 cm)

Opuntia humifusa (Indian fig, Indian fig prickly pear, mission cactus, Nopal de Castilla, smooth mountain prickly pear, smooth prickly pear, tuberous prickly pear, tuna de Castilla, tuna mansa, Eastern prickly pear)

6/22/2017 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts

Opuntia humifusa (Indian fig, Indian fig prickly pear, mission cactus, Nopal de Castilla, smooth mountain prickly pear, smooth prickly pear, tuberous prickly pear, tuna de Castilla, tuna mansa, Eastern prickly pear)

6/22/2017 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 19 × 12" (48 × 31 cm)

Opuntia humifusa (Indian fig, Indian fig prickly pear, mission cactus, Nopal de Castilla, smooth mountain prickly pear, smooth prickly pear, tuberous prickly pear, tuna de Castilla, tuna mansa, Eastern prickly pear)

5/22/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 31 × 21" (78 × 52 cm)

Opuntia humifusa (Indian fig, Indian fig prickly pear, mission cactus, Nopal de Castilla, smooth mountain prickly pear, smooth prickly pear, tuberous prickly pear, tuna de Castilla, tuna mansa, Eastern prickly pear)

4/6/2011 · Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, Mary­land
≈ 24 × 16" (62 × 41 cm)

Opuntia humifusa (Indian fig, Indian fig prickly pear, mission cactus, Nopal de Castilla, smooth mountain prickly pear, smooth prickly pear, tuberous prickly pear, tuna de Castilla, tuna mansa, Eastern prickly pear)

6/15/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 34 × 31" (85 × 78 cm)

Opuntia humifusa (Indian fig, Indian fig prickly pear, mission cactus, Nopal de Castilla, smooth mountain prickly pear, smooth prickly pear, tuberous prickly pear, tuna de Castilla, tuna mansa, Eastern prickly pear)

6/22/2017 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 21 × 14" (52 × 34 cm)

Opuntia humifusa (Indian fig, Indian fig prickly pear, mission cactus, Nopal de Castilla, smooth mountain prickly pear, smooth prickly pear, tuberous prickly pear, tuna de Castilla, tuna mansa, Eastern prickly pear)

4/6/2011 · Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, Mary­land
≈ 3½ × 2½" (9.8 × 6.6 cm)

Opuntia humifusa (Indian fig, Indian fig prickly pear, mission cactus, Nopal de Castilla, smooth mountain prickly pear, smooth prickly pear, tuberous prickly pear, tuna de Castilla, tuna mansa, Eastern prickly pear)

5/22/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 31 × 21" (78 × 52 cm)

Opuntia humifusa (Indian fig, Indian fig prickly pear, mission cactus, Nopal de Castilla, smooth mountain prickly pear, smooth prickly pear, tuberous prickly pear, tuna de Castilla, tuna mansa, Eastern prickly pear)

4/6/2011 · Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, Mary­land
≈ 27 × 21" (68 × 52 cm)

Opuntia humifusa (Indian fig, Indian fig prickly pear, mission cactus, Nopal de Castilla, smooth mountain prickly pear, smooth prickly pear, tuberous prickly pear, tuna de Castilla, tuna mansa, Eastern prickly pear)

4/6/2011 · Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore, Mary­land
≈ 6 × 9" (15 × 23 cm)

Range:

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