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Consolea corallicola – Florida Semaphore Cactus


Scientific Name

Consolea corallicola Small

Common Names

Florida Semaphore Cactus, Semaphore Pricklypear


Opuntia corallicola

Scientific Classification

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


Consolea corallicola is an extremely rare, shrub-like cactus up to 8 feet (2.4 m) tall. The stem segments are up to 16 inches (40 cm) long and are “copiously armed” with pink spines which can exceed up to 5 inches (12.5 cm) in length. The spines on the trunk all point downward and are the largest spines on the plant. The flowers have fleshy outer tepals and red-colored inner tepals that reach one inch (2.5 cm) in length. Flowering occurs year-round, with a peak season in December through April. There is no fruit as the plants in existence are solely male and pollination is impossible. This species’ common name refers to its resemblance to railway semaphore signals.

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USDA hardiness zone 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 – particularly the American Southwest – these plants can generally be planted outside, left alone, and enjoyed.

Though Opuntia will grow just fine in a garden, 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 prickly pear 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… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Opuntia


It is endemic to Florida in the United States, where it is limited to the Florida Keys.


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