Erect Prickly Pear
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Erect Prickly Pear
P Naturalized Unknown Photo: P.S. Akarsh
Common name: Erect Prickly Pear • Bengali: নাগফনা Nagphana • Gujarati: chorhathalo • Hindi: हाथहथौड़िया Hathhathoria, नागफना Naghphana • Kannada: ಪಪಸ್ಕಲ್ಲೀ Papaskalli, Chappatigalli • Malayalam: Palakakkali, നാഗമുല്ലു Nagamullu • Marathi: Chapal • Oriya: Nagophenia • Sanskrit: mahavriksha, vajrakantaka • Tamil: Nagathali, Sappathikalli • Telugu: nagajemudu, nagadali
Botanical name: Opuntia stricta    Family: Cactaceae (Cactus family)
Synonyms: Cactus chinensis, Cactus indicus, Opuntia dillenii

Erect Prickly Pear is a fleshy shrub, growing under desert and dry conditions; the stem and branches, which are green, and become flattened and look very much like leaves, are called phylloclades. The plant is 1-1.8 m tall, internodes 15 cm long. Thorns, called areoles, are prickly, the largest one is very stout, sharp and about 2 cm in length; there are about 35 areoles per internode. Flowers are yellow, 5-6 cm in across, epicalyx with 4 sepals, green, 1.7 cm long, 1.8 cm broad. Flowers have 12 petals, regular, superior. There are around 15 flowers on the topmost internode. each flower arising from the axil of a scale leaf which falls off earlier, leaving behind a scar at the base. Fruits are fleshy, almost berry-like, pyriform, depressed at the tip, 6.1 cm long, 3.1 cm in diameter. Erect Prickly Pear is native to the American continent, and now a problematic weed in the Tropical World.

Identification credit: P.S. Sivaprasad Photographed in Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala & Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.

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