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Brasiliopuntia brasiliensis (Brazilian Prickley Pear)

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Scientific Name

Brasiliopuntia brasiliensis A.Berger

Common Names

Brazilian Prickley Pear

Synonyms

Brasiliopuntia argentina, Brasiliopuntia bahiensis, Brasiliopuntia neoargentina, Brasiliopuntia schulzii, Brasiliopuntia subacarpa, Brasilopuntia brasiliensis, Cactus brasiliensis (basionym), Cactus arboreus, Cactus heterocladus, Cactus paradoxus, Opuntia argentina, Opuntia bahiensis, Opuntia brasiliensis, Opuntia neoargentina, Opuntia schulzii

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Opuntioideae
Tribe: Opuntieae
Genus: Brasiliopuntia

Description

Brasiliopuntia brasiliensis is a tree-like, perennial cactus up to 66 feet (20 m) tall. It shows thin, slightly shrunken cladodes on a central cylindrical trunk. Leaves are small and bright green. White areoles bear reddish or brow, upright, up to 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) long spines. Pale yellow to bright yellow-orange flowers are up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) long and about the same in diameter. They appear only on adult plants. Fruits are yellow, orange-red, red or purple, pear-shaped and up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) long.

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Though the large variety of species within the Opuntia genus means different types of Prickly Pears may need slightly different care. All are desert cacti that need lots of sun, lots of light and very little water. If you live in a hot, arid area, these plants can generally be planted outside, left alone, and enjoyed.

These cacti will grow just fine in a garden, but they can be grown in pots as well. To repot, ensure the soil is dry, then remove the pot and knock away the old soil. After treating any cuts with fungicide, place the cactus in a new pot and backfill it with potting soil. As with a new cutting, make sure not to water a newly repotting Prickly Pear for a brief period to avoid rotting its roots.

Opuntia can propagate either by cuttings or by seed. To propagate by cuttings, sever pads from a plant and let them dry so that the wounds heal. Then place the plants in dry soil and refrain from watering them until they begin to grow to avoid rotting them.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Opuntia.

Origin

Brasiliopuntia brasiliensis is found in Brazil, Paraguay, eastern Bolivia, Peru, northern Argentina and has become naturalized in Florida among other places.

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