I received some winter hardy prickly pear pads from a friend last fall. They rooted well, survived the winter well (better than many other plants around here), and are putting out new growth. On the new growth there are small growths slightly resembling swollen yew needles. Are these supposed to be there? Are they going to become thorns? The old pads don't have thorns anywhere near that size.enter image description here

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These are the spines. They will either go thin and hard to produce proper spines, or with the spineless varieties (which this looks to be) they will simply drop off.

Your plant has two new pads which you've correctly identified as new growth.

Flowers are the third kind of "new growth" that you might see. These will appear as small round growths but without the spines, or proto-spines to coin a word.

The spines are actually the "leaves" or remnant/modified leaves - this might explain why you think they resemble yew needles. The pads are actually modified stems.

Edit: I'm including kevinsky's deleted link to images of pads growing. This shows how new pads could be mistaken for flowers as they both start off as round growths.

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