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Taxon: Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill.

Genus: Opuntia
Family: Cactaceae subfamily: Opuntioideae tribe: Opuntieae
Nomen number: 25840
Place of publication: Gard. dict. ed. 8: Opuntia no. 2. 1768
Comment: an implicit reference to a Linnaean basionym may be assumed fide Melbourne ICN Art 41, Ex. 5
Name verified on: 28-Aug-2002 by ARS Systematic Botanists. Last updated: 21-Jan-2014
Species priority site is: Natl. Germplasm Repository - Miami (MIA).
Accessions: 150 in National Plant Germplasm System.
  • all available ) NPGS accessions. or .
  • all available ) NPGS accessions by country.
  • Check PlantSearch database of Botanic Gardens Conservation International for possible non-NPGS germplasm.


Species on the following lists:

Common names:

  • Barbary-fig   (Source: World Econ Pl ) – English
  • Indian-fig   (Source: World Econ Pl ) – English
  • Indian-fig prickly-pear   (Source: Fla Entomol 84:484.) – English
  • mission cactus   (Source: Cact Fam ) – English
  • mission prickly-pear   (Source: F NAmer ) – English
  • prickly-pear   (Source: Edible HC ) – English
  • smooth mountain prickly-pear   (Source: Cact Fam ) – English
  • smooth prickly-pear   (Source: Cact Fam ) – English
  • spineless cactus   (Source: Hortus 3 ) – English
  • sweet prickly-pear   (Source: Weeds SAfr 2001 ) – English
  • tuberous prickly-pear   (Source: Cact Fam ) – English
  • tuna cactus   (Source: F NAmer ) – English
  • boereturksvy   (Source: Weeds SAfr 2001 ) – Afrikaans
  • grootdoringturksvy   (Source: Weeds SAfr 2001 ) – Afrikaans
  • figuier d'Inde   (Source: Dict Rehm ) – French
  • figuier de Barbarie   (Source: Dict Rehm ) – French
  • Feigenkaktus   (Source: Dict Rehm ) – German
  • figo-da-Índia   (Source: Cact EBrazil ) – Portuguese
  • figo-da-Espanha   (Source: Cact EBrazil ) – Portuguese
  • figueira-da-Barbária   (Source: Dict Rehm ) – Portuguese
  • jamaracá   (Source: Cact EBrazil ) – Portuguese
  • jurumbeba   (Source: Cact EBrazil ) – Portuguese
  • orelha-de-onça   (Source: Cact EBrazil ) – Portuguese
  • palma-de-gado   (Source: Cact EBrazil ) – Portuguese
  • palma-gigante   (Source: Cact EBrazil ) – Portuguese
  • chumba   (Source: Dict Rehm ) – Spanish
  • chumbera   (Source: Dict Rehm ) – Spanish
  • higuera   (Source: Dict Rehm ) – Spanish
  • nopal de Castilla   (Source: Cact Mex ) – Spanish
  • nopal pelón   (Source: Cact Mex ) – Spanish
  • tuna   (Source: B. León, p.c.) – Spanish
  • tuna de Castilla   (Source: Dict Rehm ) – Spanish
  • tuna mansa   (Source: Cact Fam ) – Spanish
  • fikonkaktus   (Source: Vara kulturvaxt namn ) – Swedish

Economic importance:


Distributional range:

      Naturalized: (links to other web resources are provided for some distributions)
    Macaronesia: Cape Verde; Portugal - Madeira Islands; Spain - Canary Islands
    Northern Africa: Libya; Morocco; Tunisia
    Northeast Tropical Africa: Eritrea; Ethiopia
    East Tropical Africa: Kenya
    South Tropical Africa: Angola
    Southern Africa: South Africa
    Arabian Peninsula: Saudi Arabia; Yemen
    Western Asia: Cyprus; Lebanon; Syria; Turkey
    China: China [s.]
    Australia: Australia
    Southeastern Europe: Greece; Italy
    Southwestern Europe: France [incl. Corsica]; Spain [incl. Baleares]
    Southwestern U.S.A.: United States - Arizona, California
    North-Central Pacific: United States - Hawaii
    Caribbean: Cuba; Guadeloupe; Hispaniola; Netherlands Antilles; Puerto Rico; Trinidad and Tobago - Trinidad
    Mesoamerica: Nicaragua
    Brazil: Brazil
    Western South America: Bolivia; Ecuador; Peru
    Southern South America: Argentina; Paraguay

  • widely cultivated

  • probable origin Mexico


  • Acevedo-Rodríguez, P. & M. T. Strong. 2012. Catalogue of seed plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contr. Bot. 98.
  • Aldén, B., S. Ryman & M. Hjertson. 2009. Våra kulturväxters namn - ursprung och användning. Formas, Stockholm (Handbook on Swedish cultivated and utility plants, their names and origin).
  • Anderson, E. F. 2001. The cactus family. 499.
  • Angely, J. A. 1970–. Flora analítica e fitográfica do Estado de São Paulo.
  • Benson, L. 1982. The cacti of the United States and Canada. 932.
  • Brako, L. & J. L. Zarucchi. 1993. Catalogue of the flowering plants and gymnosperms of Peru. Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 45.
  • Bravo-Hollis, H. & H. Sánchez-Mejorada. 1978. Las Cactáceas de México, vol. 1 - 1978, vols. 2,3 - 1991 320.
  • Brutsch, M. O. & H. G. Zimmermann. 1993. The prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica [Cactaceae]) in South Africa: Utilization of the naturalized weed, and of the cultivated plants. Econ. Bot. 47:154–162.
  • CITES. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendices I, II and III (on-line resource).
  • Correll, D. S. & M. C. Johnston. 1970. Manual of the vascular plants of Texas.
  • Cufodontis, G. 1953–1972. Enumeratio plantarum aethiopiae: Spermatophyta.
  • Davis, P. H., ed. 1965–1988. Flora of Turkey and the east Aegean islands.
  • Duke, J. A. et al. 2002. CRC Handbook of medicinal herbs.
  • Erhardt, W. et al. 2008. Der große Zander: Enzyklopädie der Pflanzennamen.
  • FNA Editorial Committee. 1993–. Flora of North America.
  • Felker, P. et al. 2002. A comparison of the fruit parameters of 12 Opuntia clones grown in Argentina and the United States. J. Arid Environm. 52:361–370.
  • Felker, P. et al. 2005. Comparison of Opuntia ficus indica varieties of Mexican and Argentine origin for fruit yield and quality in Argentina. J. Arid Environm. 60:405–422.
  • Figueiredo, E. & G. F. Smith. 2008. Plants of Angola. Strelitzia 22: 1-279.
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). 2010. Ecocrop (on-line resource).
  • Forzza, R. C. et al., coord. Lista de espécies da flora do Brasil (on-line resource).
  • George, A. S., ed. 1980–. Flora of Australia.
  • Germishuizen, G. & N. L. Meyer, eds. 2003. Plants of southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14.
  • Greuter, W. et al., eds. 2000. International code of botanical nomenclature (Saint Louis Code). Art. 32.4, Ex. 7.
  • Griffith, M. P. 2004. The origins of an important cactus crop, Opuntia ficus-indica (Cactaceae): new molecular evidence. Amer. J. Bot. 91:1915–1921.
  • Hackett, C. & J. Carolane. 1982. Edible Horticultural Crops.
  • Hansen, A. & P. Sunding. 1993. Flora of Macaronesia: checklist of vascular plants, ed. 4. Sommerfeltia vol. 17.
  • Hedberg, I. & S. Edwards. 1989–. Flora of Ethiopia. (and Eritrea. 2000)
  • Henderson, L. 2001. Alien weeds and invasive plants: a complete guide to declared weeds and invaders in South Africa. Plant Protection Research Institute, Handbook 12.
  • Henderson, M. et al. 1987. Declared weeds and alien invader plants in South Africa. Botanical Research Institute, bulletin 413.
  • IPGRI. New World Fruits Database (on-line resource).
  • Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry. Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER): plant threats to Pacific ecosystems (on-line resource).
  • Instituto de Botánica Darwinion. 2008. Flora del Conosur. Catálogo de las plantas vasculares.
  • Irish, M. 2001. The ornamental prickly pear industry in the southwestern United States. Florida Entomol. 84:484.
  • Jørgensen, P. M. & S. León-Yánez, eds. 1999. Catalogue of the vascular plants of Ecuador. Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 75.
  • Kiesling, R. 1999. Origen, domesticación y distribución de Opuntia ficus-indica. J. Profess. Assoc. Cactus Developm. 3:50–59.
  • Kunkel, G. 1984. Plants for human consumption.
  • Labra, M. et al. 2003. Genetic relationships in Opuntia Mill. genus (Cactaceae) detected by molecular marker. Pl. Sci. (Elsevier) 165:1129–1136.
  • Le Floc'h, E. & L. Boulos. 2008. Flore de Tunisie: catalogue synonymique commenté.
  • León, B. 1995. pers. comm. [re. Spanish common names].
  • Leuenberger, B. E. 1993. Interpretation and typification of Cactus opuntia L., Opuntia vulgaris Mill., and O. humifusa (Rafin.) Rafin. (Cactaceae). Taxon 42:426.
  • Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium. 1976. Hortus third.
  • Magness, J. R. et al. 1971. Food and feed crops of the United States. IR Bull. 1.
  • Markle, G. M. et al., eds. 1998. Food and feed crops of the United States, ed. 2.
  • McGuffin, M., J. T. Kartesz, A. Y. Leung, & A. O. Tucker. 2000. Herbs of commerce, ed. 2.
  • Meikle, R. D. 1977–1985. Flora of Cyprus.
  • Miller, A. G. & T. A. Cope. 1996–. Flora of the Arabian Peninsula and Socotra.
  • Mouterde, P. 1966–. Nouvelle flore du Liban et de la Syrie.
  • Munz, P. A. & D. D. Keck. 1959. A California flora.
  • Porcher, M. H. et al. Searchable World Wide Web Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database (MMPND) (on-line resource).
  • Rehm, S. 1994. Multilingual dictionary of agronomic plants.
  • Reyes-Agüero, J. A. et al. 2005. Systematic notes and a detailed description of Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill. (Cactaceae). Agrociencia (Montecillo) 39:395–408.
  • Shreve, F. & I. L. Wiggins. 1964. Vegetation and flora of the Sonoran desert.
  • Standley, P. C. & J. A. Steyermark. 1946–1976. Flora of Guatemala.
  • Standley, P. C. 1937–1939. Flora of Costa Rica.
  • Stevens, W. D. et al., eds. 2001. Flora de Nicaragua. Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 85(1-3).
  • Stintzing, F. C. et al. 2005. Color, betalain pattern, and antioxidant properties of cactus pear (Opuntia spp.) clones. J. Agric. Food Chem. 53:442–451.
  • Taylor, N. & D. Zappi. 2004. Cacti of eastern Brazil.
  • Taylor, N. P. et al. 2002. Realignment and revision of the Opuntioideae of Eastern Brazil. Succ. Pl. Res. 6:130.
  • Turrill, W. B. et al., eds. 1952–. Flora of tropical East Africa.
  • Tutin, T. G. et al., eds. 1964–1980. Flora europaea.
  • Vigueras G., A. L. & L. Portillo. 2001. Uses of Opuntia species and the potential impact of Cactoblastis cactorum (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) in Mexico. Florida Entomol. 84:494.
  • Wagner, W. L. et al. 1990. Manual of the flowering plants of Hawai'i.
  • Weber, E. 2003. Invasive plant species of the world: a reference guide to environmental weeds.
  • Wu Zheng-yi & P. H. Raven et al., eds. 1994–. Flora of China (English edition).


Check other web resources for Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill.:


  • Check for additional images
  • Google Images Images Note: Be advised that their identity may be inaccurate. Proper identification of a plant may require specialized taxonomic knowledge or comparison with properly documented herbarium material.

Abbreviations & symbols in GRIN Taxonomy

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Cite as:
USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program.
Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Online Database].
National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland.
URL: (09 October 2015)

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