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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - November 25, 2005

From: Phoenix, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Projected longevity of Opuntia fragilis (Fragile Prickly Pear)
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

How long does Opuntia fragilis live? Thank you.

ANSWER:

We don't have specific information about the longevity of the Fragile Prickly Pear (Opuntia fragilis); but the Opuntias, in general, are reported to live no longer than 20 years. There is, however, evidence for one species, the Grizzly Bear Prickly Pear (Opuntia erinacea) living more than 75 years. We have Opuntias on site at the Wildflower Center that are more than 10 years old and continue to regenerate themselves by resprouts from dropped pads. Since most, if not all, Opuntias regenerate in this manner, the life of a clonal colony could exceed the proposed 20 year lifespan.

 

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