by Stephen Mifsud
   24 Feb 2021      ()
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Opuntia ficus-indica   (Prickly Pear)

Opuntia ficus-indica  (CACTACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands at or after year 2000.

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Profile Date Oct-2010 (last update: 12-Jan-2019)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (Oct-2010) Opuntia ficus-indica retrieved from on 2021-Feb-24

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Opuntia ficus-indicaL.
Published in Gard. Dict. ed 8, no. 2 (1768)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Opuntia ficus-barbarica
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life ]

Plant Family :

Cactaceae Juss. (The Cactus Family)
9 species from the Cactaceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Prickly Pear, Indian Fig, Barbary Fig

Maltese name(s) :

Bajtar tax-xewk, Bajtar tal-Indja, Franċiż

Status for Malta :

Species that was introduced in Malta after year 1492 and spreads to form established, non-invasive populations. It may become become invasive if it widespreads rapidly.

Frequency :

Very Common     Common     Frequent     Scarce     Rare     Very rare     Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: Macro-Phanerophyte (high trees usually over 10m )
Germination [info]: Dicotyledon

Legal Protection [link]:

Not Protected by Law (LN200/2011 or LN311/2006)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :


Colour of Flowers:

Yellow, and Med

Remarks :

A common Cactus species much used in agriculture for closing field margins which gives the farmer protection from wind and also helps to prevent trespassing into fields. Although it makes delicious fruits, it is not much harvested by farmers. This was introduced from Central America. It is also found as Oputunia ficus-barbarica in some literature.

Species Description and Distribution

Habitat in Europe:

Cultivated for its edible fruit and as a hedge and widely naturalized

Preferred habitat in Malta:

Data will be available in the next update of this website.

Botanical Description:

Erect, 3-5 m, with patent branches; joints 20-50 x 10-20 cm, oblong to spathulate-oblong. Leaves 3 mm, subulate; areoles small, whitish; spines usually 0, rarely 1-2, small, pale yellow or white; glochids yellow, numerous, caducous. Flowers 7-10 cm in diameter, bright yellow; filaments pale yellow. Fruit 5-9 cm, ovoid or obovoid, with strongly depressed umbilicus, yellow, red or parti-coloured, edible

Distributional range:

Mediterranean region

Native region outside Europe:

(Tropical America.)

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):

Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):

Introduced in  the Balaeric Islands, Corse, Crete, France (incl. Monaco and Channel Islands but excluding Corse), Greece, Spain (incl. Andorra but excl. the Balaerics), Italy (excl. Sicily and Sardignia), ex-Jugoslavia, Doubtful in Portugal

Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(Euro+Med Checklist, 2017) - Country codes

[nAE AE(G) nAg nAl nAz(M S) nBl Bl(M) nCa Ca(C F G H L P T) nCo nCr nCt nCy Da Fe nGa(F) -Ge nGr He nHs Hs(G S) nIJ Ir nIt nJu nLe nLi nLS nLu nMa nMd Md(D M P) No nSa ?Si nSi(M S) Su nSy nTn Tu(A) Uk(K)]

Images (15 images)
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-0.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-1.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-2.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-3.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-4.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-5.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-6.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-7.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-8.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-9.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-10.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-11.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-12.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-13.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-14.

Links & Further info

Google Web

Google Images

Yahoo Web

Yahoo Images




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



The Plant List


Vienna Virt. Hb.





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