Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus 
Opuntia humifusa


The shaded region in the diagram below is where the Prickly Pear cactus grows naturally. It spans a wide range across the United States and Canada but it is interesting due to the fact that it is the only native cactus to Wisconsin. The cactus itself grows low to the ground and spans between 4-12 inches. It grows best in dry, sandy soiled areas. This is due to its specialized adaptations to survive in poor soil and its drought tolerance. This cactus species needs a lot of direct sunlight, it cannot survive in shady regions. It is also well adapted to survive in very low temperatures, as one would expect due to the places it grows naturally.

Aside from its natural habitat, the Prickly Pear has been transferred and grown in many other places. This is due to its wide commercial use and also because of its agricultural use. It is also planted in many areas to prevent wind and water erosion of soil.