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Bunny Cactus

Bunny Cactus


Succulentopedia

Opuntia microdasys var. pallida (Bunny Ears Cactus)

Opuntia microdasys var. pallida (Bunny Ears Cactus) is an evergreen perennial forms a dense shrub up to 24 inches (60 cm) tall…


Opuntia microdasys forms a dense shrub 40–60 cm tall, occasionally more, composed of pad-like stems 6–15 cm long and 4–12 cm broad.

Instead of spines it has numerous white or yellow glochids 2–3 mm long in dense clusters. They are barbed and thinner than the finest human hairs, detaching in large numbers upon the slightest touch. If not removed they will cause considerable skin irritation so the plants must be treated with caution. [1]

The Latin specific epithet microdasys means “small and hairy”. [2]

The yellow flowers appear only rarely. Despite this, it is a very popular cactus in cultivation, partly because of the young plant’s comical resemblance to a rabbit’s head. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. [3] [4]

Native to Mexico, introduced in the United Kingdom, Kenya, Malawi, and Tanzania. [5] One reason for the success of O. microdasys in desert habitats - at home and as an introduction - is its efficient fog collection ability. The spines and hairs have the perfect structure and microstructure to capture and channel fog. [6]

The very closely related Opuntia rufida differs in having reddish-brown glochids. It occurs further north in northern Mexico, and into western Texas. Some botanists treat the two as a single species.


A Scientifically Special Succulent

The Bunny Succulent is a unique plant because it is a heterophyllous plant, meaning that it can grow more than one type of leaf on the same plant. It has a caudex form, bearing a swollen, above-ground trunk.

From the top of the root, the first set of leaves begins to form. These are usually tightly packed together and look like they have been symmetrically cut in half by a divine force. These first leaves are generally about 10 mm in diameter. The plants grow wholly fused and are covered by a sclerotic brown sheath.

As the plant grows older, the second set of leaves start to appear. These leaves are long and cylindrical, measuring about 10 to 15 cm long and 3.5 mm in diameter. The plants begin to sprout together at the base then spread out into two distinct leaves, taking the shape of bunny ears. These leaves are covered in small, crystalline cells that give them a furry look. These cells are specialized storage cells that are rich in sugars, helping the plant retain moisture for long periods.

Check out our article to “Best Gardening Tools for Succulents” for our guide to best tools for your succulent growing needs.


THE BASICS

Zones:

Generally zones 9-11 some varieties, such as O. humifusa, are cold hardy to zone 4.

Height/Spread:

Varieties range from 6- to 12-inch tall, 18-inch wide low-growing cactus to 10- to 15-foot tall trees.

Exposure:

Bloom Time:

Color:

Prickly pear flower color varies by type, usually yellow, red or purple. Fruit colors can also vary in shades of red, green and yellow-orange.

Other:

Because of their spiny nature, prickly pear cactus are deer resistant.


Watch the video: Repotting cactus