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 leucotricha DC.

A true species with white flowers.  [JD].  ‘Often 3 to 5 meters high, with a large top; trunk as well as the older joints covered with long white bristles; joints oblong to orbicular, 1 to 2 cm. long, pubescent; areoles closely set, the upper part filled with yellow glochids, the lower part at first with only I to 3 weak white spines; flowers, including ovary, 4 to 5 cm. long; petals yellow, broad; ovary with numerous areoles, the upper ones bearing long, bristly glochids (1 cm. long); style red; stigma-lobes green; fruit variable, 4 to 6 cm. long, white or red, the rind not easily coming off from the pulp, aromatic, edible.’  [Britton & Rose – The Cactaceae vol.I, p. 174/1919].

Horticultural & Botanical History

The classification and synonymy of this plant is in some doubt.  ‘Opuntia leucacantha Link and Otto (Salm-Dyck, Hort. Dyck. 362. I834), published first in 1834 - although the name occurs in literature as early as 1830 (Verh. Ver. Beford. Gartenb. 6: 434. I830) - which was later taken up as Consolea leucacantha by Lemaire (Rev. Hort. 1862: 174. 1862), seems to belong here rather than to O. spinosissima.  If it came from Mexico, as reported, it could not be O. spinosissima or any of its relatives, for none of them is known from Mexico.

Opuntia subferox Schott (Pfeiffer, Enum. Cact. 167. 1837) was given as a synonym of this species, while O. leucacantha laevior Salm-Dyck (Cact. Hort. Dyck. 1844. 47. 1845) and O. leucacantha subferox Salm-Dyck (Forster, Handb. Cact. 497. 1846) were supposed to be based on O. subferox.

Opuntia leucantha (De Candolle, Prodr. 3: 474. 1828), unpublished, is doubtless the same as O. leucacantha.’ [Britton & Rose – The Cactaceae vol.I, p. 174/1919].

Introduced to Britain in 1825.  [JD].  

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1850 and 1857 catalogues [T.715/1850].


Don refers to Opuntia leucantha hort. berol. as a ‘species known only by name.’ 

Published Mar 02, 2010 - 09:14 PM | Last updated Jul 15, 2010 - 05:28 PM

Family Cactaceae
Region of origin


  • Opuntia leucacantha Salm-Dyck
  • Opuntia fulvispina Salm-Dyck
  • Opuntia erythrocentron Lem.
  • Opuntia leucosticta Wendl.
  • Opuntia subferox Schott
Common Name
Name in the Camden Park Record

Opuntia leucocantha 

Confidence level medium