Species at Risk


Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus


Opuntia humifusa

What is Parks Canada doing to help save the Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus?


Some cacti with the flower buds preparing to bloom.
Studies are looking at which insects pollinate the cactus and analysing how its seeds are spread.
© Parks Canada / D. A. Wilkes / 06.62.03.05 (71), 1985

In Point Pelee National Park, the cactus is carefully monitored and managed. Two factors have been identified as vital to the conservation of this species: maintaining suitable habitat in the park and stopping people from transplanting individual plants.

Research and Monitoring

Most of the conservation strategies focus primarily on continued research and monitoring to determine the habitat requirements, population genetics, reproduction and dispersal of the eastern prickly pear cactus.

A variety of studies are being conducted to learn more about this endangered species. These studies include looking at which insects pollinate the cactus and analysing how its seeds are spread. This work will provide information that will enable Point Pelee National Park to protect the species and its habitats for future generations.

Point Pelee National Park is also consulting with experts to set vegetation management objectives that will ensure the proper management of the various habitats in the park, including the rare red cedar savannah where the eastern prickly pear cactus is found.

Recovery Actions

Point Pelee's hiking trails and park facilities are designed to protect the plants from trampling. Special boardwalks permit visitors to view species such as the eastern prickly pear cactus from a safe distance. At the same time, the park's educational messages regarding the species focus on discouraging removal and encouraging protection of the habitat it needs to survive.

Public Education

Exhibits, publications, presentations and interpretive programs encourage visitors to Point Pelee to help protect the eastern prickly pear cactus. By promoting the public's understanding, the park hopes to gain support for the recovery and protection of both the cactus itself and the habitat that is so vital to its survival. Outreach education through news articles, an intensive local in-school program and the park's Web site also help to promote the plight of the cactus both inside and outside the park boundaries.

Working with Partners

Point Pelee National Park is currently working with the Universities of Windsor and Guelph to conduct research on the cactus. Park staff are creating a Recovery Team for the species with researchers and the provincial government. The park is also developing and implementing a Carolinian Canada Species at Risk Education Strategy with other public education partners to protect species at risk and their habitats.