Skip to main content

This genus is accepted, and its native range is New World.


M. Thulin et al. Flora of Somalia, Vol. 1-4 [updated 2008]

Stems with cylindrical, club-shaped, subglobose or flattened joints
Areoles tufted with irritant barbed bristles and usually 1 to many spines
Leaves small, soon falling
Flowers solitary, sessile, brightly coloured
Berry with areoles, bristles and sometimes spines
Seeds with aril.
Some 150 species in America, some widely naturalized elsewhere.


Cactaceae, R. Hunt. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1968

Shrubby or arborescent cacti with cylindrical, club-shaped, subglobose or flattened branches
Areoles tufted with barbed bristles (glochids) and usually 1–∞ longer stouter spines
Leaves small, subulate to terete, usually early deciduous
Flowers solitary, sessile; perianth rotate or erect,brightly coloured, segments ∞
Ovules circinotropous (the funicles circinnate)
Berry bearing areoles, glochids, and sometimes spines
Seeds ∞, encased by the hard, white funicular aril; endosperm scanty
A large genus distributed naturally throughout the Americas from British Columbia to the Strait of Magellan
Widely introduced in the warmer parts of the world, some species as food-plants for the cochineal insect, some for forage or for their edible fruits.

Native to:

Alabama, Alberta, Argentina Northeast, Argentina Northwest, Argentina South, Arizona, Arkansas, Aruba, Bolivia, Brazil Northeast, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, Brazil West-Central, British Columbia, California, Colombia, Colorado, Connecticut, Costa Rica, Cuba, Delaware, District of Columbia, Dominican Republic, East Himalaya, Ecuador, El Salvador, Florida, Galápagos, Georgia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Jamaica, Kansas, Kentucky, Lebanon-Syria, Leeward Is., Louisiana, Manitoba, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mexico Central, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Northwest, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Netherlands Antilles, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nicaragua, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Ontario, Oregon, Panamá, Paraguay, Pennsylvania, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saskatchewan, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Trinidad-Tobago, Uruguay, Utah, Venezuela, Venezuelan Antilles, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Windward Is., Wisconsin, Wyoming

Introduced into:

Albania, Algeria, Andaman Is., Angola, Ascension, Assam, Austria, Bahamas, Baleares, Bangladesh, Benin, Bermuda, Bulgaria, Canary Is., Cape Provinces, Cape Verde, Cayman Is., Central European Rus, China South-Central, China Southeast, Corse, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, East Aegean Is., Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, France, Free State, Gambia, Great Britain, Greece, Guinea, Gulf of Guinea Is., Hainan, India, Iraq, Italy, Kenya, Korea, Kriti, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Madeira, Malaya, Mauritius, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nansei-shoto, Netherlands, New Caledonia, New South Wales, Nicobar Is., Northern Provinces, Northern Territory, Palestine, Portugal, Queensland, Rodrigues, Rwanda, Réunion, Sardegna, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sicilia, Somalia, South Australia, South China Sea, Spain, Sri Lanka, St.Helena, Sudan, Swaziland, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Tibet, Tunisia, Turkey, Turks-Caicos Is., Victoria, Vietnam, West Himalaya, Western Australia, Western Sahara, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zaïre

Opuntia Mill. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Ecuador 44886.000

First published in Gard. Dict. Abr. ed. 4: s.p. (1754)


Flora of Somalia

  • Flora Somalia, Vol 1, (1993) Author: by M. Thulin [updated by M. Thulin 2008]

Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • Gard. Dict., Abr. ed. 4 (1754)

Art and Illustrations in Digifolia
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

Flora of Somalia
Flora of Somalia

Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa

Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
'The Herbarium Catalogue, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet [accessed on Day Month Year]'. Please enter the date on which you consulted the system.

Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

Milliken, W., Klitgard, B. and Baracat, A. (2009 onwards), Neotropikey - Interactive key and information resources for flowering plants of the Neotropics.