by Stephen Mifsud
   13 Jun 2024      ()
External Links:

Opuntia ficus-indica   (Prickly Pear)

Opuntia ficus-indica  (CACTACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

Page Contents + Links

General Information Species Images
External Links Support and sales
Submit information Facebook community
Sponsors & Adverts Copyright notes
Cactaceae Index Plant Family Index
This profile is brought to you by one of the website's sponsors.
[read more...]
Profile Date Oct-2007 (taxon update: none)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Opuntia ficus-indica - datasheet created on Oct-2007. Retrieved from on 13-Jun-2024

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Opuntia ficus-indica(L.) Mill.
Published in Gard. Dict. ed 8, no. 2 (1768)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Opuntia ficus-barbarica A.Berger
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Cactaceae Juss. (The Cactus Family)
11 species from the Cactaceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Prickly Pear, Indian Fig, Barbary Fig

Maltese name(s) :

Bajtar tax-xewk, Bajtar tal-Indja, Franċiż

Status for Malta :

Naturalised Alien. Species that was introduced in Malta after year 1492 (Columbus' discovery of the New World) and spreads and integrates to form established, non-invasive populations. Species may become become invasive if it widespreads rapidly.

Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent    Scarce     Rare    Very rare    Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: Macro-Phanerophyte ( high trees usually over 10 m high )
Germination [info]: Dicotyledon

Legal Protection :

Not legally protected till the last update of this website (2/Mar/2022)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :

May – July

Colour of Flowers:

Yellow, or Med


May cause allergic reactions or irritation in contact with the skin or mucous membranes

Name Derivation :


Planting in rural areas :

Cannot be planted in the wild (rural areas) since the species may be invasive (see ERA guidelines)

Remarks :

A common Cactus species much used in agriculture for closing field margins which gives the farmer protection from wind and also helps to prevent trespassing into fields. Although it makes delicious fruits, it is not much harvested by farmers. This was introduced from Central America. It is also found as Oputunia ficus-barbarica in some literature.

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Cultivated for its edible fruit and as a hedge and widely naturalized
Preferred habitat in Malta: Data will be available in the next update of this website.
Botanical Description: Erect, 3-5 m, with patent branches; joints 20-50 x 10-20 cm, oblong to spathulate-oblong. Leaves 3 mm, subulate; areoles small, whitish; spines usually 0, rarely 1-2, small, pale yellow or white; glochids yellow, numerous, caducous. Flowers 7-10 cm in diameter, bright yellow; filaments pale yellow. Fruit 5-9 cm, ovoid or obovoid, with strongly depressed umbilicus, yellow, red or parti-coloured, edible
Distributional range: Mediterranean region
Native region outside Europe: (Tropical America.)

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
Introduced in  the Balaeric Islands, Corse, Crete, France (incl. Monaco and Channel Islands but excluding Corse), Greece, Spain (incl. Andorra but excl. the Balaerics), Italy (excl. Sicily and Sardignia), ex-Jugoslavia, Doubtful in Portugal
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
[nAE AE(G) nAg nAl nAz(M S) nBl Bl(M) nCa Ca(C F G H L P T) nCo nCr nCt nCy Da Fe nGa(F) -Ge nGr He nHs Hs(G S) nIJ Ir nIt nJu nLe nLi nLS nLu nMa nMd Md(D M P) No nSa ?Si nSi(M S) Su nSy nTn Tu(A) Uk(K)]

Links & Further literature (1 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Contribution to the alien flora of the Maltese Islands: New records, observations on invasive species and taxonomic updates Stephen Mifsud  (2017)
Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (15 images)
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-0.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-1.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-2.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-3.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-4.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-5.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-6.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-7.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-8.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-9.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-10.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-11.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-12.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-13.
   Opuntia ficus-indica   -   Image Code: OPUFI-14.

Buy Seeds and Docs
Sales of seeds of wild plants for academic studies, research or personal use. Note that not all species seeds can be exported - depending on Maltese regulations and CITES, and availability depends on season. You are hence kindly requested to first fill and submit a quotation form by which you will get confirmation of the purchase, availability and charges. Currently local orders are not taken.   Online Quotation (Seeds)

Buy images found in this large online collection of Maltese flora photographed by the author (Stephen Mifsud). Prices reasonable and rated differently according size and resolution. Buying images for your projects will support this website. When placing an order please take note of the image code specific for every image in the corresponding species webpage (found beneath each individual photo) since this is required when filling the online ordering form. Images are normally sold as a license with the copyright reserved to the author, but sales of copyright of exceptional images can be considered.   Online Purchase (Images)
Kindly consider to support this website by giving a small donation. This will help to cover some expenses needed to maintain the website and its further development without any adverts. Please login into your PayPal account and use the email: as email address to send your donation   Online Donation

Use this form to submit more information on this species or report mistakes in this webpage. If information supplied is taken from a book, journal or website, please provide the corresponding reference or website address. Your email address is only for internal communication. Please report only Maltese locations for plants that indicated as rare or very rare (refer to the nomenclature section above). Please do report mistakes, broken links, technical errors, typing / grammar errors, misidentifications or taxonomical updates; this will help to improve the website's accuracy. Thanks you! Fill any of the three sections (A/B/C) below and kindly submit the form.     * = required fields.
Plant Species:  *
Your name:   * Your Email:   *
Section A:  Additional Information about this plant species
Own observations: Info from published material (books, journals, website):
Reference of published material:
Section B:   Where have you seen this plant on the Maltese Islands?
Locations in Malta or Gozo where you have seen this plant. Only applies for rare plants.

1:       2:       3:   
4:       5:       6:   
Try to be as concise as possible. Examples: Dingli Cliffs (near chapel), Wied Incita (Zebbug side), Triq il-Kbira (Qormi), Barriera ta' Ghajn Abdul (Xlendi), Fields East of Salib tal-gholja (Siggiewi). GPS co-ordinates are also welcomed!
Section C:  Corrections for mistakes and errors in this plant profile
Section of this page where you found an error (select one)
What is the error/mistake and suggest a correction
AntiSpam Verification: Please answer these simple questions:   80 + 3 =     This website is about
      is supported by:
[ EcoGozo, Ministry for Gozo ] [ Projects in Motion ] [ Sunrise Pet & Garden Centre] [ MycoMalta ]
Webpage is copyright of Stephen Mifsud / - (2002-2022)