Opuntia ficus-indica ‘Burbank Spineless’

Burbank’s spineless nopal
Large prickly pear with upright form and nearly spineless, elongated paddles. Tangerine summer flowers followed by tasty red fruits. Edible paddles. A stylish addition to the edible garden.
Opuntia ficus-indica 'Burbank Spineless'
height 5–12
width 6–10
tolerates Drought, Heat, Pots
Opuntia are extremely drought-tolerant, which means that no additional water should be needed once the plant is established. Newer plants might show that they are thirsty when their leaves begin to shrivel. If this happens, give them a bit of water; otherwise they might start to drop their paddles. Often these shed paddles will root and grow once rain comes.

To keep your opuntia plump and lush-looking, water it every two or three weeks during the summer.

Opuntias prefer good drainage, but they are tolerant of a wide range of soils.
exposure Full Sun
drainage In Ground: Cactus Mix, In Pots: Cactus Mix, Tolerates Sandy Soil
fertilizing All Purpose, Low Needs
origin hybrid
8, 9, 12–23

Sunset Zones Map

Outdoor Exposure Guide


Full Sun
Six or more hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Shade
Three to five hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Sun
One to two hours of sun beams directly landing on the plants leaves.

Full Shade
The plant is never fully lit by sun beams, but is in a bright spot or has dappled sunbeams playing over the leaves throughout the day.

Deep Shade
The plant never has dappled light on the leaves, and is in a place that feels dim, even on a nice sunny day.


Growing Notes

Opuntias (prickly pear or paddle cactus) are iconic and have a myriad of uses. This one has edible paddles called nopales and edible fruit called tunas. These cactus can be pruned by selectively removing paddles to accentuate a more upright, open, or bushy form. Opuntias are delicate, and arms snap off easily, so be sure to keep them away from high traffic areas. These arms can easily be propagated, by laying them on their sides on cactus mix.
You will find your cactus develops hard brown scabs that eventually cover the cactus, especially on older growth. This is called corking, and is the natural process of the cactus ‘branch’ becoming a cactus ‘stump’ and getting bark, just like trees do. Corking is totally natural and adds to the beauty of your cactus as it becomes more treelike.
These larger, more upright Opuntias will develop a meandering trunk over time as their paddles gradually cork and are covered with rough bark. By pruning the paddles over time, you can sculpt your trunk(s) and primary branches into the desired form.

Special Interest

Early in the nineteenth century Luther Burbank hybridized this South American opuntia, intending to make a drought tolerant cattle fodder for the Southwest. Ironically, over a hundred years later it’s consumed by more people than cows!

Some report that this is a hybrid of the species Opuntia Ficus-indica and Opuntia tuna.