Walton's Plant Library

Ellisiana Spineless Prickly Pear Cactus

Opuntia cacanapa 'Ellisiana'

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Ellisiana Spineless Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia cacanapa 'Ellisiana') at Walton's Garden Center

Ellisiana Spineless Prickly Pear Cactus

Ellisiana Spineless Prickly Pear Cactus

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height:  4 feet

Spread:  6 feet

Sunlight:  full sun 

Hardiness Zone:  6a

Other Names:  Tiger Tongue Prickly Pear


This edible plant has oval, gray-green pads that are blushed with purple; vibrant yellow flowers in spring; virtually spineless, but handle pads carefully; no glochids on the pads

Ornamental Features

Ellisiana Spineless Prickly Pear Cactus is a member of the cactus family, which are grown primarily for their characteristic shapes, their interesting features and textures, and their high tolerance for hot, dry growing environments. As an 'opuntiad' type of cactus, it doesn't actually have leaves, but rather modified succulent stems that comprise the bulk of the plant, and which are designed to retain water for long periods of time. This particular cactus is valued for its upright and spreading habit of growth on a plant consisting of smooth grayish green segmented pads that form 'branches' which spread out from a central base. This plant features showy yellow cup-shaped flowers at the ends of the branches in mid summer. It features an abundance of magnificent bluish-green berries from mid summer to mid fall, which fade to burgundy over time.

This plant is primarily grown as an ornamental, but it's also valued for its edible qualities. The sweet plant is most often used in the following ways:

  • Fresh Eating
  • Cooking
  • Juice-Making
  • Wine-Making

Landscape Attributes

Ellisiana Spineless Prickly Pear Cactus is a succulent evergreen plant with an upright spreading habit of growth. It commonly grows as a shrub-like plant with multiple 'branches' and stems. As a type of cactus, it has no true foliage; the body of the plant is wholly comprised of a linked series of smooth grayish green pads which are connected together to form the branches of the plant. With age, this plant will eventually develop a woody gray 'trunk' at its base.

This shrub will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and should never be pruned except to remove any dieback, as it tends not to take pruning well. Stray segments or shoots can be removed or thinned to control the overall form and spread of the plant. Deer don't particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Ellisiana Spineless Prickly Pear Cactus is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Accent
  • Mass Planting
  • Rock/Alpine Gardens
  • General Garden Use
  • Naturalizing And Woodland Gardens
  • Container Planting

Planting & Growing

Ellisiana Spineless Prickly Pear Cactus will grow to be about 4 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 6 feet. It has a low canopy. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 20 years.

This plant should only be grown in full sunlight. It requires an extremely dry, well-drained growing location, and will usually die in standing water. It is considered to be drought-tolerant, and thus makes an ideal choice for xeriscaping or the moisture-conserving landscape. Like most succulents and cacti, this plant prefers to grow in poor soils and should therefore never be fertilized. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in sandy soils. It is quite intolerant of urban pollution, therefore inner city or urban streetside plantings are best avoided. This is a selection of a native North American species.

Ellisiana Spineless Prickly Pear Cactus makes a fine choice for the outdoor landscape, but it is also well-suited for use in outdoor pots and containers. With its upright habit of growth, it is best suited for use as a 'thriller' in the 'spiller-thriller-filler' container combination; plant it near the center of the pot, surrounded by smaller plants and those that spill over the edges. It is even sizeable enough that it can be grown alone in a suitable container. Note that when grown in a container, it may not perform exactly as indicated on the tag - this is to be expected. Also note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.

Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight
Accent  Massing  Rock  Garden  Naturalizing  Container 
Flowers  Fruit  Foliage Color  Texture  Bark  Winter Value 
Ornamental Features