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Barbary Fig

Opuntia ficus-indica

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Barbary Fig (Opuntia ficus-indica) at Roger's Gardens

Barbary Fig

Barbary Fig

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Barbary Fig (Opuntia ficus-indica) at Roger's Gardens

Barbary Fig fruit

Barbary Fig fruit

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height:  15 feet

Spread:  15 feet

Sunlight:  full sun 

Hardiness Zone:  7b

Other Names:  Cactus Pear, Indian Fig Opuntia, Prickly Pear


A domesticated crop variety producing edible fruits in late summer through early fall, following pretty yellow flowers in spring; exceptional as an accent for rock gardens and planters; needs perfect drainage and sandy or gravelly soils

Ornamental Features

Barbary Fig has yellow flowers with buttery yellow eyes at the ends of the stems in mid spring, which are interesting on close inspection. Its attractive succulent round leaves remain light green in color throughout the season. It features an abundance of magnificent red berries from late summer to early fall.

Landscape Attributes

Barbary Fig is an herbaceous perennial with an upright spreading habit of growth. Its relatively coarse texture can be used to stand it apart from other garden plants with finer foliage.

This plant will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and should never be pruned except to remove any dieback, as it tends not to take pruning well. Deer don't particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;

  • Spiny

Barbary Fig is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • General Garden Use
  • Container Planting

Planting & Growing

Barbary Fig will grow to be about 15 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 15 feet. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 30 years.

This plant should only be grown in full sunlight. It prefers dry to average moisture levels with very well-drained soil, and will often die in standing water. It is considered to be drought-tolerant, and thus makes an ideal choice for a low-water garden or xeriscape application. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in sandy soils. It is quite intolerant of urban pollution, therefore inner city or urban streetside plantings are best avoided. This species is not originally from North America. It can be propagated by division.

Barbary Fig is a fine choice for the garden, but it is also a good selection for planting in outdoor pots and containers. Its large size and upright habit of growth lend it for use as a solitary accent, or in a composition surrounded by smaller plants around the base and those that spill over the edges. It is even sizeable enough that it can be grown alone in a suitable container. Note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.

Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight
Garden  Container 
Flowers  Fruit  Foliage Color  Texture 
Ornamental Features