Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Opuntia brasiliensis (Willd.) Haw.

Frost tender, scarcely spiny cactus with cylindrical stem, ultimate branches, flattened and almost leaf-like, and yellow flowers.  To 3.5m.  [RHSD, Hortus]. 

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘The accompanying beautiful and very accurate delineation is the joint production of two ladies, whose talent in executing is only equalled by their zeal and readiness in undertaking whatever may be useful in the cause of Botanical science; the Hon. Miss Norton and Miss Young.  Though of comparatively recent introduction to Madeira, O. Brasiliensis now occurs in several gardens at Funchal, flourishing without the slightest care or attention.  Its principal flowering season is May or June; but blossoms are often produced more or less throughout the year.  The fruit figured was ripe in May, simultaneously with the inflorescence; but August or September is its more abundant season.  The peculiar habit and mode of growth at once distinguish this species.  It rises with a perfectly straight, erect, slender, but firm and stiff, round stem, to a height of from ten to twenty, or even thirty feet, very gradually tapering to a point from a diameter of two to six inches at the base, and furnished all the way up with short, mostly horizontal or declining branches, spreading round on all sides not more than a yard in any part from the main stem, and gradually becoming shorter upwards; often altogether ceasing a little below the summit.  The whole plant resembles a straight, taper pole, artificially dressed up with branches.’  [BM t.3293/1834].

Introduced to Britain in 1816.  [PD].

History at Camden Park

Hand-written entry in a copy of the 1850 catalogue held by the Mitchell Library, endorsed on the front Wm. Macarthur, 23rd Dec, 1854.  [ML 635.9m].  Certainly grown in the gardens at this time.


Published Mar 02, 2010 - 08:59 PM | Last updated Jul 15, 2010 - 05:26 PM

Figured is a cactus with spiny, flattened, leaf-like branches and yellow flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.3293, 1834.

Opuntia brasiliensis (Willd.) Haw. | BM t.3293/1834 | BHL

Family Cactaceae
Region of origin

South America

  • Opuntia arborea Steud.
  • Cactus brasiliensis Willd.
  • Cactus paradoxus Horneman
  • Cactus arboreus Vellozo
  • Cereus paradoxus Steud.
Common Name
Name in the Camden Park Record

Opuntia braziliensis 

Confidence level high