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Opuntia monacantha

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Ordo: Caryophyllales

Familia: Cactaceae
Subfamilia: Opuntioideae
Tribus: Opuntieae
Genus: Opuntia
Series: O. ser. Armatae
Species: Opuntia monacantha

Opuntia monacantha Haw., Suppl. Pl. Succ. 81. 1819, type cons.


Cactus monacanthos Willd., Enum. Pl. Suppl. 33. 1813.
Cactus chinensis Roxb., Fl. Indica 2: 476. 1832.
Cactus indicus Roxb., Fl. Indica 2: 475. 1832.
Cactus urumbeba Vell., Fl. Flum. 207. 1825.
Opuntia arechavaletae Speg., Anales Mus. Nac. Buenos Aires ser. 3, 4: 520. 1905.
Opuntia brunneogemmia (F.Ritter) C.Schlindwein, Bradleya 13: 29. 1995.
Opuntia lemaireana Console ex F.A.C.Weber in Bois, Dict. Hort. 894. 1898.
Opuntia monacantha subsp. brunneogemmia (F.Ritter) P.J.Braun & Esteves, Succulenta (Netherlands) 74: 133. 1995.
Opuntia monacantha var. deflexa Salm-Dyck, Cact. Hort. Dyck. 1849. 66. 1850.
Opuntia monacantha var. gracilior Lem., Cact. Gen. Nov. Sp. 68. 1839.
Opuntia monacantha var. gracilior Salm-Dyck, Cact. Hort. Dyck. (1849). 66, 235. 1850.
Opuntia monacantha var. variegata Darrah., Coll. Cact. Alexandra Park 57. 1908.
Opuntia roxburghiana Voigt, Hort. Suburb. Calcutt. 62. 1845.
Opuntia umbrella Steud., Nom. ed. 2. 2: 222. 1841.
Platyopuntia brunneogemmia F.Ritter, Kakteen Südamerika 1: 34 (-35), fig. 1979.


The name Opuntia monacantha has been neotypified to represent this species, native to southeast South America. It was originally used by Haworth for Opuntia stricta Mill. In literature, Opuntia vulgaris Mill., often applies to this species, but should be regarded as a synonym to Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill.
Native distribution areas:

Continental: Southern America
Regional: Brazil
Brazil Northeast, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast
Regional: Southern South America
Paraguay, Uruguay
Introduced into:
Alabama, Ascension, Assam, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Canary Is., Cape Provinces, China South-Central, China Southeast, Corse, Cyprus, Fiji, Florida, France, Galápagos, Georgia, Hawaii, Italy, Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal, Louisiana, Malaya, Mauritius, Mississippi, Myanmar, Nansei-shoto, Nepal, Northern Provinces, Portugal, Rodrigues, Rwanda, Réunion, Somalia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Vietnam, West Himalaya

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Haworth, A.H., 1819. Supplementum Plantarum Succulentarum ... 81.

Additional references

Korotkova, N., Aquino, D., Arias, S., Eggli, U., Franck, A. , Gómez-Hinostrosa, C., Guerrero, P.C., Hernández, H.M., Kohlbecker, A., Köhler, M., Luther, K., Majure, L.C., Müller, A., Metzing, D., Nyffeler, R., Sánchez, D., Schlumpberger, B. & Berendsohn, W.G. 2021. Cactaceae at Caryophyllales. org–a dynamic online species-level taxonomic backbone for the family. Willdenowia 51(2): 251–270. DOI: 10.3372/wi.51.51208 Open access Reference page.


Korotkova, N. et al. 2022. Opuntia monacantha in Cactaceae at A global synthesis of species diversity in the angiosperm order Caryophyllales. Published online. Accessed: 2022 Jan 15. Reference page.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2022. Opuntia monacantha in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published online. Accessed: 2022 Jan 15. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2022. Opuntia monacantha. Published online. Accessed: Jan 15 2022. 2022. Opuntia monacantha. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published online. Accessed: 15 Jan 2022.
USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network. Jan 15 in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Accessed: 2022.

Vernacular names
English: Drooping Prickly Pear, Cochineal Prickly Pear, Barbary Fig
español: Monducuru, Urumbeba, Arumbeva, Cardo Palmado
lea faka-Tonga: kakatisi

Opuntia monacantha, commonly known as drooping prickly pear, cochineal prickly pear, or Barbary fig, is a species of plant in the family Cactaceae native to South America.


The species was first formally described in 1812 by botanist Adrian Haworth in Synopsis Plantarum Succulentarum. The name Opuntia vulgaris, which is a synonym of Opuntia ficus-indica, has been misapplied to this species in Australia. From Adrian Hardy Haworth, the species was in the genus 1819 Opuntia. Many authors, including Nathaniel Lord Britton, Joseph Nelson Rose and Curt Backeberg stated that Opuntia monacantha was just another name for Opuntia vulgaris.

Opuntia monacantha is a succulent, thorny shrub that grows almost tree-like with several branches and profusely expanded crown in branches that reaches a height of up to 5 meters. The oval to elongated shoots narrowed at the base are shiny green. They are quite thin and four to ten inches long. The widely spaced areoles have brownish glochids. The straight thorn (rarely two to three are present) is brown and between 3 and 4 centimeters long.[2]

The dark yellow flowers reach a diameter of up to 8 centimeters. The pear-shaped, red fruits are thornless and up to 7 centimeters long.

It is native to Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay and is naturalised in Australia and South Africa up to altitudes of 1000 meters. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest and sandy shores.

Taylor, N.P.; Zappi, D.; Machado, M.; Braun, P. (2017). "Opuntia monacantha". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2017: e.T46518A121560477. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T46518A121560477.en. Retrieved 15 November 2021.

Opuntia monacantha . In: Edward F. Anderson : The Cactus Family . Timber Press: Portland (Oregon), 2001, pp. 508 f. ISBN 0-88192-498-9 .

"Opuntia monacantha". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville Area. Retrieved 2007-10-04.[permanent dead link]
"Opuntia monacantha". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government.

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