Opuntia polyacantha var. erinacea

Old Man Cactus

Plant Type: Cactus
Sun: Sun
Drainage: Well-draining
Water: Naturalize, Occasional
Height X Width: 1' X 2'
Santa Clara County Local: No
What do these mean?



This variety of the plains pricklypear grows at higher elevations in southeastern California and the Southwest. It is named for its long flexible spines that give the cactus a hairy, grizzled appearance. The several varieties are tetraploid, i.e. they have four chromosomes instead of the usual two. This results in a relatively fast pace of diversification on the evolutionary tree. The old man cactus consequently varies from location to location. Generally, it grows as a low patch of oval pads with dense covering of draping, white spines. Like all cactus, it prefers well-draining soil and little or no water. Although a southern species, old man cactus is quite tolerant of extreme cold. The winter temperatures of SF Bay Area are well within its temperature tolerance.


Deer Resistant: Yes
Attractive to Bees: Yes
Attractive to Butterflies: Yes
Good Under Oaks: No
Evergreen or Deciduous: Evergreen