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My 1870's OO/HO Central California railroad needed prickly pear cactus. This is my method of making them.
These are photos of California prickly pear cactus I took in September 2004 along State Highway 101 south of Gilroy. I am trying to duplicate them.
Several vendors sell cactus, here is Pegasus. Plastruct also has Saguaro and a deserty prickly pear. Neither looked like what I wanted.
My initial search led me to this heart punch. If I punched the hearts out of thin styrene and cut them in half the would make prickly pear. This is a 1/4" heart. There are several sizes.
I found this heart confetti at a craft store, Michael's in the party section. Here were 1/4" plastic hearts already punched out. They were plastic so the could be "crazy glued".
I cut the hearts in half and cut them into three pieces by cutting off part of the heart. This produces an intermediate piece and a two smaller ears.
I put a drop of Super Glue on a piece of tin foil and dip the edge or end of the ear into the glue. Place the ear against the next and it will attach instantly. I buy my crazy glue at the dollar stores it is cheaper.

Grow the catcus out by attaching ears at different angles. The hearts will stick to each other, there are two where the arrow points.
The 1/4" hearts are large for HO. Here is my initial cactus with an HO figure. There are different size heart punches available.
Paint the finished cactus with a green paint. I used olive green craft paint.
The 1/4" hearts are perfect for my 1870's OO/HO(4mm/ft running on HO track) layout. Engineer Bill extolling the virtures of the Prickly Pear to his crew. The locomotive is an "HO" IHC old time  4-4-0 (Actually an OO/HO model).