Opuntia strigil, Marblefruit Opuntia, is a tough hardy Prickly Pear from southwest Texas with a range that stretches from the Pecos River in the east across to El Paso in the west and is concentrated north of the Big Bend, often at elevations up to 1300m. It has cladodes that become rounded and circular with reddish-yellow spines and long central spines that turn dark chocolate brown as they age. This distinctive colour of these mature central spines is a useful first point of reference in identification. The areoles become woolly and the glochids - as far as glochids go - are not quite as troublesome as those of some species. The pale creamy yellow flowers are followed by spherical fruits hence the common name, Marblefruit Prickly Pear.
Opuntia strigil requires a gritty gravelly alkaline substrate with added limestone. It must drain freely, particularly in a typically wet British winter. Plant it in a sunny sheltered aspect or a south-facing gravel bed, ideally one that is raised or on a steep gradient that will help to keep it well-drained during the worst of the winter weather.
Opuntia strigil is a tough vigorous Opuntia that forms a low wide bush and is capable of withstanding prolonged drought and extreme sub-zero temperatures. But it does need to be as dry as possible from October through to late February.
|Geographical Origin||USA: Texas|
|Cultivation||Full sun. Warm sheltered aspect. Well-drained gritty alkaline substrate. Keep completely dry in winter from October through to late February|
|Eventual Height||1 m|
|Eventual Spread||1 m|
|Hardiness||Hardy down to about -15C if kept perfectly dry. Fleece in colder weather. Mulch heavily with grit or gravel|
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