Interestingly, the Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia humifusa) is a native Ohio plant, to select, sandy-soil areas within the state. The plant “comes alive” in late Spring/early Summer, with large yellow flowers, located atop the large cactus pads. Oftentimes, the pads will shrivel in the wintertime as a defense mechanism against the cold, only to enlarge during warmer weather. They have become a somewhat popular ornamental or decorative plant in many flower gardens, even though many individuals may not realize their native status.
The plant is listed as potentially threatened, as plant collectors continue to dig specimens from its native habitat, which is located from southern New England to the eastern tip of the Great Plains. Particularly in Ohio, it is restricted to sandy dunes and very well-drained, rocky soils in the northwest counties and scattered across southern Ohio.
The particular pad specimens that we planted here at the Historic Shupe Homestead Wildlife Preserve were salvaged from a road construction project site and acquired for conservation here at the Preserve. We are pleased to add this native, unique specimen to the Preserve.