Nopalea cochenillifera var. Variegata

Note: The brown, woody trunk at the bottom of this plant is normal for the species.

The Nopalea cochenillifera f. variegata is a rare, spineless Opuntia species. It reaches an approximate mature height of 6' - 8'. Its USDA hardiness zone is 9a - 10b (20 - 40 degrees F). As with most cacti, this species requires a very well-draining soil. Grittier and richer soil is preferable. Do not overwater. Your friend only requires a small amount of water to thrive. Make sure to always allow the soil to completely dry out before more water is supplied. During the winter months, keep your friend very dry. The species thrives in full sun to bright shade.

The Nopalea cochenillifera f. variegata grows flat pads that sport an incredibly distinctive yellowish-green on green variegation. In many ways, its colors are reminiscent of a watermelon. As pictured here, older specimens develop a bark-like, woody skin at the base of the plant. Flowers are red-magenta in color. This cactus flowers throughout the summer and spring months. During the summer months, the pads tend to heat up, feeling quite similar to a warm hand (thus the common name "Warm Hand Cactus").

Numerous Central American cultures consume this Opuntia species. It is eaten both raw and cooked as a health food. Additionally, it is believed to reduce inflammation. Before consuming any of our plants, The Cactus King does ask that you first please consult a licensed medical professional.



1. Grows well as a potted specimen and/or when cultivated directly in the ground
2. Drought tolerant species, suitable for xeriscaping (i.e., cactus/succulent gardens, rock gardens etc...)


1. Attractive to bees
2. Attractive to butterflies
3. Attractive to various species of birds

-Medicinal (Prior to consuming any of our plants, The Cactus King does ask that you first please consult a licensed medical professional)

1. Numerous Central American cultures consume this Opuntia species (eaten raw/cooked)
2. It is considered to be a health food
3. It is believed to reduce inflammation


1. This species has no spines, making it a good fit for those with children


Opuntia cochenillifera
Nopalea cochenillifera
Opuntia nuda

Plant Details
USDA Zone Information: 
9a - 10b
Flower : 
Red-magenta (blooms throughout the summer and spring months)
Ideal Light Conditions: 
Full sun to bright shade
Ideal Water Conditions: 
Only requires a small amount of water to thrive during summer months/Keep dry during winter months
Speed of Growth: 
Mature Height: 
Approximately 6' - 8'
Latin Name: 
Nopalea cochenillifera var. Variegata
Common Name: 
Velvet Cactus, Warm Hand Cactus, Cochineal Cactus, Velvet Opuntia, Nopales Opuntia, Nopal Cactus

Corporate Clients (The King hangs hard)


RoboCop (1987)
RoboCop 2 (1990)
Hot Pursuit (2015)


USA Network's Queen of the South (2019)

Botanical Gardens:

New York Botanical Gardens
Oklahoma City Zoo/Botanical Gardens
Mercer Arboretum in Houston, Texas
Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan


Houston, TX Zoo
San Antonio, TX Zoo

Other Clientele:

Houston, TX Rodeo

The Cactus King's cacti and succulents have gone international! If you ever find yourself in China with a little spare time, head to the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom. It is the largest Aquarium in the world (no big deal, pun definitely intended).

The Cactus King's plants are also featured in the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom's partner parks. These include their water park, amusement park, crocodile park and botanical gardens.

Wholesale/Retail Hours

Monday through Saturday: 9am - 5:30pm

Sunday: Closed

Interested in becoming The King of wholesalers? Click the "Wholesale" tab above for more information.

Find your dream plant!

Addresses & Contact Information

Physical Address (IN-PERSON VISITS):
7900 I-45N
Houston TX, 77037

We're located directly next to the Tajj Inn.
Mailing Address (WEB ORDER PAYMENTS):

Lyn Rathburn
PO Box 16099
Houston, TX 77222

Please make checks/money orders out to "Lyn Rathburn."
Questions? Concerns? The CK team is here to help!

For assistance, please: Call
(281) 591-8833 or