Opuntia stricta (Haw.) Haw.
Haworth, A.H. (1812), Synopsis Plantarum Succulentarum: 191.
Common Prickly Pear
Succulent herb or shrub usually 50-100 cm tall, sometimes reaching up to 2 m, usually sprawling and clumped. Stems consist of a series of green photosynthetic flattened, fleshy segments (cladodes). Segments elliptic to obovate, usually 10-35 cm long and 7-20 cm wide, green to dull bluish-green, surfaces hairless. Segments are dotted with areoles (small raised structures) filled with brownish woolly hairs and yellowish glochids (small barbed bristles) and may have one or two long sharp spines (2-4 cm long) or no spines.
Flowers solitary and sessile on areoles along margin of segments. Flowers bisexual, actinomorphic, 6-8 cm diam. Perianth consisting of many spreading tepals inserted near apex of hypanthium, outer tepals green often with pinkish or reddish coloured markings and passing to yellow, inner tepals petaloid, yellow, more or less free. Stamens numerous, less than half as long as tepals. Ovary inferior 1-locular, style simple, stigma 5 or more lobed.
Fruits are a fleshy berry distributed on the margin of segments. Fruits similar to stem segments but generally smaller, more swollen in shape and purplish when mature. Fruits obovoid in outline with a depressed apex, 4-8 cm long and 2.5-4 cm wide. Fruit surface hairless with several areoles with glochids (barbed bristles). Seeds numerous, embedded in reddish or purplish pulp in the centre of the fruit, sub-globular, 4-5 mm long and 4-4.5 mm wide, yellow or pale brown in colour.
Seedlings not seen.
This profile information and associated coding has been adapted from Telford (1984), Harden et al. (2014) and Environmental Weeds of Australia (Queensland Edition).