Opuntia microdasys

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Opuntia microdasys
Opuntia microdasys 3.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Cactaceae
Genus: Opuntia
O. microdasys
Binomial name
Opuntia microdasys

Opuntia microdasys (angel's-wings, bunny ears cactus, bunny cactus or polka-dot cactus) is a species of flowering plant in the cactus family Cactaceae, native and endemic to central and northern Mexico.[1]


Opuntia microdasys forms a dense shrub 40–60 cm tall, occasionally more, composed of pad-like stems 6–15 cm long and 4–12 cm broad.

Instead of spines it has numerous white or yellow glochids 2–3 mm long in dense clusters. They are barbed and thinner than the finest human hairs, detaching in large numbers upon the slightest touch. If not removed they will cause considerable skin irritation so the plants must be treated with caution.[1]

The Latin specific epithet microdasys means “small and hairy”.[2]

The yellow flowers appear only rarely. Despite this, it is a very popular cactus in cultivation, partly because of the young plant’s comical resemblance to a rabbit’s head. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.[3][4]


Native to Mexico, naturalised in Kenya, Malawi, and Tanzania.[5] One reason for the success of O. microdasys in desert habitats - at home and as an introduction - is its efficient fog collection ability. The spines and hairs have the perfect structure and microstructure to capture and channel fog.[6]

Related species[edit]

The very closely related Opuntia rufida differs in having reddish-brown glochids. It occurs further north in northern Mexico, and into western Texas. Some botanists treat the two as a single species.

Species comparison gallery[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Opuntia microdasys". Encyclopedia of Life. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  2. ^ Harrison, Lorraine (2012). RHS Latin for Gardeners. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. ISBN 978-1845337315.
  3. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Opuntia microdasys". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  4. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 70. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  5. ^ "Opuntia microdasys (angel's wings)". Invasive Species Compendium (ISC). CABI (Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International). 2019-11-19. Retrieved 2021-03-25.
  6. ^ Ju, Jie; Bai, Hao; Zheng, Yongmei; Zhao, Tianyi; Fang, Ruochen; Jiang, Lei (2012). "A multi-structural and multi-functional integrated fog collection system in cactus". Nature Communications. Nature Research. 3 (1): 1–6. doi:10.1038/ncomms2253. ISSN 2041-1723.

External links[edit]